Caretaker boss Andy Awford hailed the spirit in his Portsmouth side after they beat nine-man Newport County 2-1.

Goals from Ryan Taylor and Jed Wallace gave caretaker boss Awford a dream start after he took over from the sacked Richie Barker on Thursday. Ismail Yakubu scored a second-half header for the Exiles, who had both Adam Chapman and Darcy Blake sent off. The former was dismissed for a reckless two-footed lunge on Danny Hollands while Blake picked up two yellow cards.

The win lifts Pompey five points clear of the Sky Bet League 2 drop zone.

Awford said: "I really enjoyed it. The lads' attitude, spirit and togetherness was fantastic. They made me sweat until the end but the result was all that mattered. How we got there didn't matter it was just about getting the three points.

"I wanted a reaction from my players and they showed it. T hey have looked a little wooden at times this season and I felt they needed to be able to play with a bit more freedom. The confidence hasn't been great recently for obvious reasons but hopefully that will improve after this.

"After the week they've had to come and play like that is magnificent. That's the standard we have to reach every week now.

"I haven't got a magic wand, the players have done that themselves and I am so happy for them.

"It's been a really difficult week, when people lose their jobs it's horrible. But life goes on and my job is to try and keep this football club in the league. This win will go a long way towards that.

"Nothing is safe yet but we really feel like we can stay up and we have to show that from now right up until the end of the season. It's not going to be easy but we are up for it."

The defeat leaves Newport 10 points adrift off the League Two play-off places.

Manager Justin Edinburgh said: "Even down to nine men I felt we still took the game to Portsmouth and I give my players every credit for that. Even at 2-0 down we kept at it and that's why our fans cheered our nine men off the pitch.

"I don't have any complaints on either red card, the two yellows for Darcy have just happened as part of the game with us chasing and it's disappointing with Adam, he's let himself down and cost us dearly. It's very out of character for him.

"If you take the sending off (Chapman) and the penalty out of the game, I thought we were very good. We were camped in Portsmouth's half, we threw everything we had at them and in general play I felt we were the better side."