Awford set to stick with winning formula

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Andy Awford is ready to make Pompey’s resilient wing-backs his settled formula.

The Blues boss goes in search of back-to-back wins against in-form Wycombe at Fratton Park tomorrow.

Andy Awford. Picture: Joe Pepler

Andy Awford. Picture: Joe Pepler

And he is set to employ a 3-5-2 system against the Chairboys, as his side aim to build momentum.

Awford last week stated he was looking for a formation to stick with after a season of tinkering.

But he wanted to see success from a shape before continuing with it, after a form blip in League Two,

Wing-backs then proved successful on Tuesday night in the 3-0 win against Dagenham & Redbridge.

Awford stopped short of confirming the way he will set-up – but he is now looking for continuity.

When asked if he was continuing with wing-backs, Awford said: ‘See you on Saturday! I’m not going to give away my team.

‘But we did well the other night and won the other night.

‘You are getting to the stage now where you are playing players who are in form.

‘I know it’s Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday but they’ve had enough rest and you are aren’t as tired when you’re winning.

‘You’re fresher when you are winning. So let’s see where we go.

‘I need to assess everything and look at the bumps and bruises.

‘We need to see where we are and what we’ve got.’

The wing-back system has been one of the success stories of Pompey’s season so far.

Awford’s side have shipped just a single goal playing that way, since it was introduced for the Capital One Cup win against Peterborough.

That goal came from a set-piece in the defeat to Newport County at the end of last month.

The message to his defensive players is expansive play comes second – even if they do get more licence to be progressive playing 3-5-2.

He said: ‘Don’t let goals in. It is defend first and foremost.

‘It’s head it and kick it. Defend. Proper.

‘With the wing-backs it’s horses for courses.

‘It depends what you ask them to do.

‘Sometimes it’s a five, as it was for 15 minutes on Tuesday when we were pushed back.

‘Alex Wynter and Dan Butler were full-backs, even though I like them to get forward.

‘I thought Dan was fantastic for the last 30 minutes doing that down the left-hand side.

‘They can play in a four. They are both full-backs who can play wing-backs and can flip whenever you choose.

‘They are flexible, as are Adam Webster and Nicky Shorey.

‘But you defend your goal. You don’t want your central defenders defending too wide. Defend your box and goal.

‘I haven’t seen too many goals scored from the touchline.

‘Their first and foremost job is to defend.

‘Then, when the game settles down, they can play.’