Awford: Pompey no one-trick ponies

Joe Devera played as one of three centre-backs for the Blues on Tuesday. Picture: Joe Pepler
Joe Devera played as one of three centre-backs for the Blues on Tuesday. Picture: Joe Pepler
Plymouth Argyle's Remi Matthews. Picture: PA Images

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Versatility among the playing options and now flexibility in the employment of systems.

For Andy Awford, Pompey are proving they are no ‘one-trick pony’.

The Blues boss sprang a Capital One Cup surprise on Tuesday night when he unveiled a wing-back formation against Peterborough.

In truth, it’s a structure he was worked on in training many times, weighing up unleashing in place of his favoured 4-2-3-1 on several first-team occasions.

But the visit of the Posh was to be the debut – resulting in an impressive 1-0 victory over the League One side.

Operating with Ben Chorley, Paul Robinson and Joe Devera as the centre halves and Dan Butler and Alex Wynter as the wing-backs, it yielded an instant impact.

The return of a twin strike force also paid dividends, with Miles Storey grabbing the only goal of the game as he linked-up well with Craig Westcarr.

And Awford now has the difficult decision of which system to operate with for Saturday’s visit of Cambridge.

He said: ‘I just didn’t have the right personnel in pre-season to try it and have a look at it.

‘We’ve played it many a time in practice matches so the lads know what they are doing with it.

‘It’s not alien to them, it’s something we have in the locker if we needed to use it.

‘On Tuesday night I thought it was right tactically to use against Peterborough, I had seem them play on DVD and felt that was the best way to go.

‘It gives you more bodies in the centre of the pitch, you have three centre halves and three central midfielders and two centre forwards so there’s a strong spine.

‘Of course you are vulnerable out wide, but if teams like to play through you down the middle maybe you need more bodies in the centre of the pitch, so we had a look at it and felt that was the right way to go.

‘We had a look at it last season as well if I am to be honest, but didn’t get round to playing it for whatever reason. It is something we can do.

‘You can’t just be a one-trick pony, if we need to flip mid-game we can. You generally have a defender on the bench if you are playing a back four so if we need to do it during a game we can.

‘It’s not just because Paul (Robinson) came to the club, I could have played it with Whatmough, Devera and Chorley, while Johnny Ertl and Adam Webster can also play in there.

‘The lads made it work. Me, Macca (Alan McLoughlin) and Paul (Hardyman) can only give them the information and walk it through with them and do it live on the training ground – but they have to do it in the cauldron.

‘And they did it absolutely magnificent, they were top drawer.’

A crowd of 7,726 were present to watch a Pompey team with six changes shine.

And Awford recognised an improvement from the 1-1 draw at Exeter on the opening day of the campaign.

He added: ‘I asked them to be patient with the ball.

‘On Saturday, especially the first half we tried to score every time we had it, within two passes.

‘We calmed down a bit, retaining the ball a bit better, although in the second half we tried to retain it a little bit too much at times and got caught on it

‘But that’s the learning curve and we will go again Saturday and try to get the win.’