Awford mulls over ditching wing-backs

Right wing-back Josh Passley Picture: Joe Pepler
Right wing-back Josh Passley Picture: Joe Pepler
  • Pompey have used wing-back system for last 13 matches
  • Head to Carlisle on a run of one victory in seven matches
Have your say

ANDY AWFORD is weighing up ditching his wing-backs in a bid to resuscitate his faltering Pompey.

After a golden February, following the introduction of the 3-5-2 formation at Wycombe, the Blues have won just one of their past seven matches.

You need to look at whether the system it suiting us and that is something that we’ve had a good look at this week

Andy Awford

More alarming has been the manner of successive defeats to AFC Wimbledon and Shrewsbury, with Awford’s side producing lacklustre and unimaginative showings.

The pressure is now back on February’s Manager of the Month as Pompey head into the final seven matches of a desperately-disappointing campaign.

Ahead of today’s trip to Carlisle (3pm), Awford admits his favoured system has now come under intense scrutiny, particularly due to largely-enforced changes to his playing personnel.

For Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Shrewsbury, Joe Devera was the only member left of the regular three central defenders and two wing-backs who performed so impressively in February.

With Paul Robinson and Jack Whatmough both injured, Ben Chorley and Nyron Nosworthy have come in.

Meanwhile, Cole Kpekawa has been preferred to Dan Butler for the last two matches – and right wing-back Josh Passley has been missing through a combination of injury and poor timekeeping.

The decision to revert to four at the back at half-time against the Shrews last weekend did see Pompey rally for 20 minutes last weekend.

And Awford is contemplating whether to rip up the system for a more convention formation.

‘I have assessed everything, you have to because the last two performances for me have been a little bit short of the standards that have been set,’ said the manager.

‘You need to look at whether the system it suiting us and that is something we’ve had a good look at this week.

‘If we think it is okay and can keep going with it, we will. If it needs changing, then it will be.

‘It was almost a whole new back five against Shrewsbury. It was my choice to give Dan Butler a breather, but three out of the four had been forced upon.

‘We have been in a mode and a way of playing which had suited everyone. The club won manager of the month for February playing that way and we found a system which was right for our players.

‘If it is not effective at the moment then we will have to look at that again or, alternatively, work at that system to make sure that it does work.

‘That is the decision for us to make and the work that has gone on this week.’

Saturday’s half-time system change saw Devera move to right-back, with Wes Fogden – a substitute for the injured Danny East – pushed into midfield.

And Awford was impressed how that tactical change worked against Micky Mellon’s high-fliers.

He added: ‘That was our best spell in the game. Just after half-time we changed to a flat four and flooded midfield, and it was better for 20 minutes – then they scored against the run of play.

‘It is a case of you have to score when you have your good spells in the game and that was our best spell of the whole match.’