Awford issues Agyemang challenge

Patrick Agyemang. Picture: Joe Pepler
Patrick Agyemang. Picture: Joe Pepler

Andy Awford has challenged Patrick Agyemang to remain Pompey’s striking focal point.

The veteran made a superb return to the first-team on Tuesday night with a man-of-the-match display against Dagenham & Redbridge.

The 3-0 victory marked his first start of an injury-hampered campaign.

It was also only the second time Awford has selected him for the first team during his spells as caretaker and permanent boss.

Now fit-again and with Ryan Taylor sidelined due to a groin problem, Agyemang has been given a chance to impress.

And Awford has urged the 33-year-old to make the most of his opportunity.

He said: ‘That was what Pat Agyemang does best and the challenge is now can he do it again Saturday?

‘At the end of last season I didn’t chuck him in too much. I went with Taylor, with Wes Fogden behind and I know he was a bit frustrated with that.

‘We had a good chat in the summer – and then he has done his hamstring in pre-season.

‘But he has been ready to go, and with Taylor injured and us wanting to play with a 3-5-2 and two up top, it gave him an opportunity and I am delighted for him.

‘He was excellent against Dagenham & Redbridge.

‘You could see he was determined to do well in his performance, he was really up for it.

‘He has held the ball up, brought players into play, won his fair share of headers, he’s running down channels, closing full-backs down and all that side of it as well.

‘That is what he does, the lads know it, we see that in training all the time and when the ball goes into him you know eight or nine times out of 10 it is going to stick. It gives the lads time to get up the pitch and get to him.

‘He’s a fans’ favourite here, they appreciate good play, they are not silly, they know what is what.

‘We want that level of performance from him more times than not.’

Agyemang’s only previous start under Awford came in the 1-0 win at Northampton last season.

However, he was unavailable for the first eight matches of the current campaign due to the hamstring injury he picked up in pre-season.

Now he’s back in the first-team starting line-up and the Fratton faithful responded with a standing ovation when he left the field in the 73rd minute against the Daggers.

Awford added: ‘Pat had done his work by then.

‘The game was won in my opinion, we weren’t going to lose that.

‘I felt we needed to shut up shop a little bit and play two wide and one up the middle, which we did, which also stopped their full-backs having too much time on the ball.

‘It worked on Tuesday and I am looking forward to going again on Saturday and picking up another result.’