Awford ups set-piece focus

Adam Webster, left, celebrates his goal against Southend last month with Jed Wallace ' the last time Pompey scored from a set-piece
Adam Webster, left, celebrates his goal against Southend last month with Jed Wallace ' the last time Pompey scored from a set-piece
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Andy Awford is determined to make Pompey more of a threat from set-pieces.

The Blues boss has been unhappy with the statistics on attacking corners and free-kicks from his side and ordered more work on the training ground to improve his troops’ fortunes.

Dead-ball duties have been handed to Dan Butler and Jed Wallace in recent weeks and have certainly shown signs of improvement – although the goals have yet to follow.

In general, around 46 per cent of goals scored in the modern game come from set-pieces and Awford wants a further improvement from his team.

He said: ‘We’ve increased the amount of work we have done on set-pieces recently.

‘The stats were telling me that we weren’t doing enough with them in front of goal.

‘Defensively – touch wood – we were fine, but we weren’t enough of a threat at the other end.

‘That stat has gone up significantly in terms of creating chances in recent games.

‘Now we just need to increase the goals.

‘The delivery has been a lot better. We’ve worked very hard on that on the training ground.

‘And we’ve got some units in our team who are a handful in the air. So we are looking more of a threat. We just need to finish it off.’

Although it is not quite as easy as putting the ball into the penalty area and just hoping for someone to get on the end of it, Awford is also keen to keep things as simple as possible for his players.

‘I was doing an analysis and watched Southend playing a few weeks ago,’ he said.

‘The other team worked a very good corner, so we might try to use that.

‘We’ve seen other teams do certain things and on courses a lot of the coaches share ideas on set-pieces. That didn’t used to happen.

‘I don’t want to make things too complicated, though.

‘If the ball goes into the right area and you have enough people attacking it, you’ve got a chance of scoring a goal.

‘You just need to have different runners in different areas to create space.’

Centre-backs, with their aerial ability, are so often the target at set-pieces, but Awford is looking to find ways to get his strikers free in those dangerous situations.

‘The chances seem to have fallen to defenders lately instead of Matt Tubbs or Ryan Taylor,’ added the boss.

‘Jack (Whatmough) is trying to smash everything at the minute.

‘When he defends he puts his head through it.

‘We did a lot of work with him on that to get him to head it properly.

‘He’s been trying to bullet it in like Andy Gray when sometimes all you need is a little touch or a glance.

‘But I think it’s been a really good part of our game lately.

‘We just need to improve that little bit in front of goal and we are working at it.’