Awford encouraged by Blues’ start

Craig Westcarr could not break the deadlock on Saturday. Picture: Joe Pepler
Craig Westcarr could not break the deadlock on Saturday. Picture: Joe Pepler

Andy Awford maintains he has been encouraged by Pompey’s start to the season – despite dropping two points at lowly Hartlepool.

The Blues could only manage a 0-0 draw at Victoria Park – their third straight goalless draw in the past three visits – as they spurned at least four excellent chances to take the lead.

Patrick Agyemang and Craig Westcarr both failed to take presentable opportunities and had Pompey broken the deadlock, they would have gone on to win the game comfortably.

But instead, Hartlepool stayed in the game and finished the stronger of the two teams.

While it was a disappointing result, Pompey moved up to eighth in League Two and are only outside the play-off places on goal difference, while they are five points off an automatic promotion spot.

And Awford believes that is a solid base, as he looks for improvement from his troops.

Awford said: ‘We’re in that top bracket.

‘We are not too far away and we are knocking on the door.

‘We would have liked maybe three or four more points than we’ve got at this stage.

‘But we are where we are and we’ve got to build on that.

‘We’ve not had a disastrous start and we’ve not had a magnificent start.

‘I’d say it’s been a good, solid start. I’m certainly not disheartened or anything like that.

‘I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen and we will improve.

‘We’ve got to be patient and we haven’t quite fired just yet. But we will.’

While Pompey have not hit the heights of their fine run towards the end of last season, they have also not suffered the same lows of some of their darkest days of last term.

And Awford pointed to a some big changes to his squad over the summer as a factor behind his team failing to blaze the promotion trail.

He said: ‘I think it’s nine new players that have come in and 14 players have gone out.

‘It’s about getting that right and we will continue to work at it.

‘I’d love to be top of the league and 10 points clear but it doesn’t work like that.

‘You have to take that step back and have a look at things to keep a bit of perspective.

‘We’ve played 10 games and as long as we are knocking on the door and staying in and around it, that’s okay at this stage of the season.

‘We are not fourth from bottom or anywhere down there. You want to be in there or thereabouts.

‘We want to do better than that, of course we do. But it takes time.’

And Awford felt Pompey could easily have claimed a convincing win with a more clinical edge in front of goal.

He said: ‘If we had won that game 2-0 or 3-0, as perhaps we should, we might be having a different opinion.

‘The game would have changed if we’d got that first goal but we couldn’t manage it.’