Awford upbeat despite lack of cutting edge

Jed Wallace went close for Pompey but the clash with Oxford United ended goalless. Picture: Joe Pepler
Jed Wallace went close for Pompey but the clash with Oxford United ended goalless. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Andy Awford rued a lack of cutting edge which led to the Oxford United stalemate.

But the Pompey boss kept any frustration at a dearth of goals against the U’s in context at end of a powerful month for his side.

The goalless draw with Michael Appleton’s side made it seven games unbeaten and four clean sheets out of six for the Blues.

But Awford’s men could not continue their freescoring form after smashing in nine goals in the past two games.

Pompey had possession and some reasonable chances, which they were unable to take.

Awford felt his team should have been better in the final third.

But he wasn’t getting deflated at not picking up three points.

Awford said: ‘It didn’t quite happen for us in the attacking third.

‘But to score nine goals in the previous two games was a good return.

‘We need a bit better quality. There were chances and we had a lot of shots.

‘But we haven’t quite managed to open them enough for me.

‘We went gung-ho the other night and this was one like-for-like to try to open the door.

‘It wasn’t down to a lack of effort and desire.

‘They stuck to their game plan and gave it their all.

‘We’ve put in a good performance and it’s another point on the total.

‘It’s seven unbeaten and we’re pleased with the run we’re on.

‘The solidity of the team and the clean sheet was pleasing.

‘It’s four clean sheets out of six now.

‘When you don’t concede goals you don’t lose games.’

The Oxford United draw brought a close to a fine run in February which has seen Pompey pick up an impressive 14 points from 18.

Awford said: ‘Everyone is playing their part.

‘The training ground has been a great place to be of late.

‘Since Christmas, really, the performance level has gone up and up.

‘We’ve been pretty consistent. We 
didn’t get the points return in January but we have in February.

‘If you’d offered us the points we got in February, anyone would’ve snatched your hand off for it.

‘We’re pleased. Everyone has contributed to what we’ve done over the past few weeks.’

Pompey missed out on the chance to close the gap to the play-offs to seven points by not winning on Saturday.

But Awford is still refusing to look towards the top seven.

He said: ‘There are no targets. The 
target is the next game against Northampton.

‘We need three points from that and if we can’t get three points, we’ll try to get one. That’s the only target we have.’

Pompey now have two games on the road this week.

And that will allow a battered Fratton Park pitch some time to recover after becoming heavily cut up.

Awford said: ‘The pitch is the same for both teams.

‘It’s heavy. Of course it is and we have to adapt to it – but no-one mentioned it against Tranmere.

‘We have two tough away games now. Northampton have got a good result at Shrewsbury, so that will be a tough game.’

Watch the Fratton faithful applaud Pompey off the pitch here.