Awford pleased with defensive match-up

Jack Whatmough Picture: Joe Pepler
Jack Whatmough Picture: Joe Pepler

Paul Robinson had to watch from the Pompey bench as Ben Chorley and Jack Whatmough were retained at the centre of defence for the season’s opener at Exeter.

And Andy Awford believes the selected pair created a solidity against the Grecians which had long been missing.

Millwall loanee Robinson was named among the substitutes at St James Park on Saturday as Awford stuck with the partnership which lined-up against Charlton.

Whatmough, in particular, was outstanding as the Blues came from a goal down to grab a 1-1 draw through Jed Wallace’s 74th-minute leveller.

Pompey boss Awford admitted he was disappointed with the manner of Tom Nichols’ first-half opener when a quickly-taken free-kick crept through to find him.

But, overall, he was delighted with how his chosen central-defensive duo fared.

Awford said: ‘Paul came and trained Thursday and I just felt he needed to get to know us and our style and what we are about.

‘So I spoke with him and said I would be going to go with the other guys on Saturday and that was right for what we were playing against and what we worked at during pre-season.

‘I thought we were quite solid against Exeter, that is probably as solid as we have looked for a long time.

‘They looked dangerous on the counter-attack occasionally in the second half, but in the main we were solid.

‘I just felt those two were suited to play against Exeter and I think they both did very well.

‘Jack did well, he put in a solid performance at centre-half, and I thought he was going to score with the header at the end which would have capped a nice performance for him.

‘I am delighted with his progress, he is part of the squad and they all earned that point.’

Awford revealed Joe Devera was not considered for duty at Exeter due to a tight groin. Instead, Robinson and Alex Wynter were his chosen defenders on the bench, both unused during the fixture.

Devera was present at St James Park, though, along with Johnny Ertl, who also didn’t make the squad.

Certainly Robinson will be considered for a start in tomorrow night’s visit of Peterborough in the Capital One Cup. But Devera is more of a doubt.

Awford added: ‘Joe has a tight groin and had to pull out of training last Monday.

‘I could have played him but the risk was there of him breaking down so that is why he was nowhere to be seen on the team sheet.

‘So it would have been silly to put him at risk.’