Awford: Pompey keeper is best in the league

Pompey keeper Paul Jones. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey keeper Paul Jones. Picture: Joe Pepler
Dion Donohue. Picture: Colin Farmery

New boy’s bitter-sweet Pompey experience

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Paul Jones is the best goalkeeper in League Two, according to Pompey boss Andy Awford.

The 28-year-old turned in another assured display in the 1-1 draw at Cheltenham to enhance his growing reputation at Fratton Park.

And that has left Awford in no doubt he made the right decision to sign him from Crawley in the summer after many expected the boss to offer Trevor Carson a permanent deal.

Awford said: ‘He has been excellent since he came in.

‘For me, he is the best goalkeeper in the league and is such a commanding presence for us.

‘He is a winner. He wants to improve himself and wants to improve the team, which is the sort of character I wanted in the dressing room.

‘He goes about his business 100 per cent every single day and is a pleasure to work with.

‘I am so pleased we got him, he is a fantastic goalkeeper in my opinion.

‘If I was voting for a player of the year at the moment, I think he would be in the top three – without a shadow of a doubt.’

While Jones is a person who prefers to stay out of the limelight, it’s hard to ignore his performances so far this season.

And aside from his trademark impressive command of the penalty area on Saturday, he also pulled off a vital save – denying Robins forward Omari Sterling-James in a one-on-one just moments before Nigel Atangana’s spectacular equaliser.

Awford said: ‘I have to give credit to him for that save at 1-0.

‘He stood there like a spectator for a lot of the second half but he has kept his concentration.

‘But that showed why I brought him to the football club and what a really good goalkeeper he is.

‘If that went in they were 2-0 up and we would have been staring down the barrel again.

‘I just thought he was absolutely superb. He didn’t have too much chance with the goal but I thought he was commanding and his kicking was excellent.

‘He is a good pro, a quiet lad and, although he let in six goals in the previous two games, I don’t think he has done much wrong.’

Jones’ latest outing also extended his remarkable run of consecutive appearances to 148.

He has been an ever-present for Pompey this term but it is nearly three years since he missed a game at all.

His current run stretches back to February 18, 2012 during his time with Peterborough.

Awford said: ‘I watched him a few times last season.

‘He has made all these consecutive appearances and is top drawer to work with.

‘But we have two very good goalkeepers at the club.

‘Michael Poke is playing understudy at the moment and he’s there if we need him.

‘We are blessed in that area and am really pleased with both of the goalkeepers.’