Awford scraps wing-back system

Pompey boss Andy Awford Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey boss Andy Awford Picture: Joe Pepler

Andy Awford has scrapped his much-criticised wing-back system following its Bury failure.

Instead, the Blues have worked in training on a different formation for tonight’s League Two visit of Stevenage to Fratton Park (7.45pm).

The 3-5-2 line-up had been employed in Pompey’s previous six league matches, yielding seven points, five goals and three clean sheets.

Yet Awford has conceded poor performances against Mansfield and then the Shakers have prompted him into a rethink.

As a result, there will be both a system and personnel change for tonight’s Boro clash as the Blues seek to bounce back to winning ways.

‘Plan A isn’t working so we have got a Plan B,’ said Awford.

‘We have been tight using wing-backs. Against Peterborough and Northampton we played that system and they were probably our best two performances of the season for flowing football. It certainly worked.

‘With the make-up of the team on Saturday, in the engine room were Jed Wallace and Nigel Atangana as your legs for the sitting midfielder – that was exactly the same when we beat Northampton.

‘But it didn’t work against Bury.

‘We conceded two away at Burton playing a back four and two away at Southend playing a back four, yet previously hadn’t let too many in playing a back three, so that was the reasoning.

‘We played Dagenham at home and scored three goals, you go to York and Hartlepool and create a string of chances, you play the league leaders (Wycombe) here and it is 1-1.

‘So then you are getting Mansfield back to Fratton Park and are thinking: “Go on then, let’s get after these. Don’t change the system because it has been successful”.

‘However, the last two games have been nowhere near good enough and I have always said if we are not creating chances then it is time to scratch your head and start thinking again.

‘So I have to re-evaluate that and look at personnel and a change of system.

‘We have picked a side and system we think that will get us three points against Stevenage.’

Pompey served up their worst display of the season in the 3-0 defeat at Gigg Lane.

On Saturday, Dan Butler and Alex Wynter were the wing-backs, with Nicky Shorey playing in place of Butler on the left in the 1-1 draw with Mansfield.

But Awford does not believe the identity of the wing-backs is to blame for the system’s lack of effectiveness.

He added: ‘It is not just about who plays as the wing-backs, it’s the team, they are two men in the team.

‘The reason why it hasn’t worked in the last two games isn’t just because of Dan Butler or Alex Wynter, it is because the whole team hasn’t functioned properly.

‘And I have had to look at everything.’