Pompey boss defends tactics

Nick Awford made his full league debut at Plymouth. Picture: Joe Pepler
Nick Awford made his full league debut at Plymouth. Picture: Joe Pepler
Theo Widdrington. Picture: Sarah Standing

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Andy Awford has defended his Pompey system after a dreadful televised defeat at Plymouth Argyle.

And the Blues boss also backed his midfield selection for the 3-0 Home Park defeat.

With James Dunne injured and Johnny Ertl unavailable for personal reasons, Pompey’s manager presented Nick Awford with his full Football League debut.

Jack Whatmough was also pressed into a central midfield role, with the young duo preferred ahead of benched Nigel Atangana.

Operating with a 4-1-4-1 system, the Blues shipped three goals in the opening 30 minutes with Reuben Reid scoring twice.

That scoreline remained until the final whistle but the overall display was one of the weakest this season.

And inevitably how Awford lined up his team was a matter of much criticism among supporters.

He said: ‘The thinking behind the shape was – with Plymouth playing 3-5-2 – we wanted 3v3 in the middle of the park and felt we could get Nicky Shorey and Alex Wynter out down the sides and double up, which on lots of occasions we did.

‘With the players available we felt that was the best way to go.

‘I don’t think the system cost us, I really don’t. I just think in both boxes we weren’t good enough.

‘We had Jack (Whatmough) and Nick (Awford) in there and they are good footballers in their own right.

‘Nick is the type of player, in our opinion, who can get around the pitch and do the horrible side of the game quite well, which we’ve seen in the past at Yeovil, Northampton at home and away at Stoke.

‘He deserved his opportunity and did alright but the bigger picture is the team performance in both boxes wasn’t quite good enough.

‘I had no qualms about putting any of the young lads in, as you have seen, and next week, if we feel it is the right thing to do, we will do it.

‘Jack in midfield is something we have looked at.

‘He gives you height, gives you a bit of stature.

‘He appeared in the last reserve game and has trained very well.

‘We chose not to pick Nigel (Atangana). He is a very good footballer who has come into it from non-league, as we all know.

‘But we just wanted to be as solid as we possibly could with three midfield players in there and do the horrible side of the game and for large periods I think they did.

‘Sometimes it comes off, sometimes it doesn’t. Saturday it didn’t.

‘But I am not so sure the shape was the reason behind us losing that football match.

‘We could have played 1-1-8 or 3-6-1. But in both boxes we weren’t good enough.’

‘Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it.

‘Whether it was a mistake or not I will have to reflect on that.

‘It’s too raw at the moment, I will have to watch it back.’