Quiet admiration for Pompey’s in-form keeper

Paul Jones saves from Stoke's Jonathan Walters to stop him getting his hat-trick on Wednesday night. Picture: Joe Pepler
Paul Jones saves from Stoke's Jonathan Walters to stop him getting his hat-trick on Wednesday night. Picture: Joe Pepler
Hawks boss Lee Bradbury

From patrolling the streets of Northern Ireland to steering the Hawks to potential new heights

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Andy Awford’s unwillingness to gush should not be mistaken for apathy.

There could be little argument over the identity of Pompey’s man of the match against Stoke.

Step forward Paul Jones, whose inspired display helped keep down the scoreline in Wednesday night’s Capital One Cup exit.

Not that his Blues boss was prepared to heap a bucket-load of praise onto the outstanding goalkeeper.

By Awford’s own admission, Jones was the stand-out player in the side that lost 3-0 at the Premier League home of Mark Hughes’ men.

Yet he was unusually reticent to delve too deep into a performance which drew so much admiration from the travelling faithful.

Certainly it was no reflection of the high regard he clearly possesses for the summer arrival from Crawley.

Rather, he views it as the goalkeeper carrying out his job.

Although, the fact Awford played in front of a certain Alan Knight for a decade at Fratton Park, may have also come into his thinking.

He said: ‘I would think Jonesie was man of the match (against Stoke) – but I don’t like singling people out, it’s a team.

‘If I was going to single him out that would have been last Saturday, he earned us some points against Oxford, which is his job.

‘On Wednesday night he made a couple of saves and did his job if I am honest, but I wouldn’t want to single him out, there are a lot of other lads out there who did their jobs quite well too.

‘You have to remember, I played in front of a flipping good one, I have seen keepers make performances like that every week.

‘I didn’t bring Jonesie here to let goals in, put it that way.

‘It is his job to keep the ball out and he will be gutted he let three in, but I think all three finishes were very good and he didn’t have much chance with any of them.

‘I have been delighted with him since he joined us.

‘But I have been delighted with everybody, the whole group, in everything we have done. Even on Wednesday we stuck to the plan and played to instruction which is important.’

Jones is a quiet character who prefers to avoid the media spotlight.

While Pompey’s players have been rotating their press duties during the busy fixture schedule at this stage of the campaign, the 28-year-old has opted to maintain a low profile.

He did, however, give interviews when he joined and provided an in-depth chat to The News for the traditional pre-season magazine.

On the football side, with goalkeeping rival Michael Poke struck down by a twisted ankle and then an Achilles problem, Jones has established himself as Pompey’s number one.

He is the only player to have been ever-present for Awford in the opening six matches of the campaign and tomorrow will continue that for the visit of Newport County.

It stretches his total of consecutive appearances to 127, going back to February 18, 2012, during his time at Peterborough.

Such figures do all the talking.