Awford backs away day form to fire

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

Andy Awford is confident Pompey’s away-day improvements are finally set to fire.

The Blues boss recently admitted his team’s form on their travels was a cause for concern, with just one victory to their name from eight League Two trips so far this season.

It’s in stark contrast to their impressive home record, which has yielded five wins from eight fixtures, and has left many scratching their head on the reasons behind the difference.

Pompey were unlucky not to take something from their last road trip at Shrewsbury and face another tough trip to Plymouth tomorrow (12.05pm kick-off).

While the Pilgrims are another strong outfit on home turf, Awford is convinced Pompey can pick up a second win on their travels.

But he is also keen to ensure his players do not become affected by a psychological barrier.

‘Facts are facts. We’ve got to do better on the road and if we want to do anything this season our form has got to improve,’ said Awford.

‘We’ve got to put points on the board.

‘But since the Bury game, we’ve had the one away game and we were very unfortunate to lose at Shrewsbury.

‘If we have that same level of performance again, we will be fine.

‘I have let the lads know. We have mentioned the fact that we haven’t done well enough on the road but we don’t harp on about it.

‘It can start to play in their heads and then that positive you are looking for becomes a negative.’

While Pompey have benefited from a return to the 4-4-2 formation in recent weeks, Awford hinted he is weighing up another tweak to the system to find the right formula.

He said: ‘We have spoken about it – I’m not going to lie.

‘For the most part, we’ve played well in the past few games playing the 4-4-2 in a particular way.

‘It’s a difficult balance.

‘You want to get positive results and we have to weigh that up against what we do away from home and how we want to play.

‘But we know how we will play and we’ve worked on that in training.

‘I watched Plymouth at Coventry in midweek to get a flavour of it but it didn’t change my thoughts on what we were going to do.’

There are fine lines between what would be a reasonable away record and one that is below par.

Awford added: ‘Hartlepool and York are games we feel we should have won.

‘We would be in the top six if we’d won those but I suppose you could argue whether we deserved anything against Mansfield or if we deserved to win a tight game at Oxford.

‘There are always ifs and buts.

‘It can come down to someone taking a chance or someone at the other end sticking their head in the way to make sure we don’t concede.’