Awford pleased with Tubbs – and system
Andy Awford altered his system to accommodate the eagerly-awaited debut of Matt Tubbs.
And he was delighted with the contribution of his new recruit, regardless of the controversial outcome at Newport County.
The Blues had lined-up 4-2-3-1 in their previous three matches, two of which earned them points at Cheltenham and Luton.
Yet for the League Two trip to Rodney Parade, Pompey’s boss elected to revert back to a 4-4-2 formation against a side who are undefeated at home in the league since the first match of the campaign.
That allowed Tubbs to partner Ryan Taylor as a front pair, with a four-man midfield behind them.
Facing a side employing wing-backs, Awford’s formation ensured a tight affair ultimately settled by Mark Byrne’s debatable goal.
And the Blues boss was pleased with both Tubbs and how his team was set up.
‘As soon as Matt signed he was going to start this match for us,’ said Awford.
‘Recently we’ve played 4-2-3-1 away from home but when you have got someone with that amount of goals in the team he plays.
‘I wanted him to play because he has given everyone a lift coming in last week and I was pleased with him.
‘We saw flashes of Matt and there are goals in him, of course there are, he is the leading goalscorer in the league.
‘If we keep playing like that hopefully he can score a few.
‘There was one opportunity in the second half when he couldn’t get it out from under his feet, but he’ll score with the next one.
‘Matt worked very hard as well. It’s not just his goals, he’s got that work ethic which I think the fans will like.’
Awford has been criticised by some supporters this season over his choice of systems. The 4-2-3-1 that was so effective in the fight to remain in the Football League last term was brought back for the trip to Cheltenham last month, which the Blues drew.
It remained for the lacklustre AFC Wimbledon home defeat and then the impressive draw at high-flying Luton.
Now the arrival of Tubbs has convinced the manager he has the option of fielding a 4-4-2 again.
Awford added: ‘At Newport we played Nigel Atangana and Jed Wallace narrow in a midfield four.
‘The pair of them have good legs so we asked them to get out to the wing-backs in certain areas and I thought we looked quite solid. We gave them some problems with the way we played.
‘We have had a bit of time to work at it. The players have worked tirelessly in training, the attitude of everybody has been fantastic – even the lads who weren’t involved.
‘Fair play to Newport, they defended well at the end and we had enough ball going into that box you would like to think it would go into the net.
‘We have got to remain positive, everybody must stick together and we will try to continue to climb the table.’
Pompey are currently 17th in League Two – five points off the relegation zone.
They have successive home fixtures coming up in the form of Burton (January 17) and Southend (January 24).