Blues boss lifts lid on Ashdown omission

112985_BRISTOL_CITY_V_PFC_20/08/11''Jamie Ashdown. ''NPower Championship match between Bristol City and Portsmouth FC at Bristol. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (112985-240)
112985_BRISTOL_CITY_V_PFC_20/08/11''Jamie Ashdown. ''NPower Championship match between Bristol City and Portsmouth FC at Bristol. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (112985-240)

Steve Cotterill has lifted the lid on the surprise decision to axe Jamie Ashdown.

The Pompey keeper’s run of 56 consecutive league matches was brought to a shuddering halt at Elland Road on Saturday.

Cotterill opted to drop him to the bench in favour of giving Stephen Henderson a start.

For the youngster, it was a maiden Championship appearance for the Blues since signing from Bristol City in the summer.

He subsequently gave an assured display in the 1-0 defeat.

It was poor marking from a corner – rather than any fault of the Irish keeper – which allowed Danny Pugh to net the decisive goal in the 14th minute.

Ashdown had previously started every Pompey league match since lining-up against Everton in the Premier League on May 9, 2010.

But Cotterill admitted the long-serving keeper’s poor display in the midweek defeat to Peterborough prompted him to turn to Henderson.

And he was delighted with the response from the new boy.

He said: ‘It wasn’t that mistake the other night with Jamie which prompted this – it was probably that more could have happened after the mistake.

‘Some of his decision-making went a little bit haywire, so we’ve had a long chat about it. There is no big secret with it.

‘Obviously, he is still very much part of the squad and in the plans but there is no point having goalkeeping competition if we are never going to use it.

‘Jamie probably needs to know he has got competition.

‘He didn’t have his best game last week, which we knew and he knows, too.

‘But I want to try to get the team younger which is why there is a sufferance period as well.

‘It is up to Jamie to work his way back in and it is up to Stephen to keep his shirt.

‘I thought Stephen played very well.

‘He was confident, his decision-making was good and he took his chance.

‘I don’t think he could do anything with the goal.

‘I thought he was pretty assured and had a very good game for us.

‘He has been patient and if he keeps playing like he is playing – like Jamie played beforehand – it will make it difficult to leave him out.

‘We have brought a young man in. He is 23 years of age and signed for about £100,000. He can end up being a very good signing for us.

‘In fact, on Saturday we found out, probably after the game, that we might have a better goalkeeper than maybe we thought.’

Cotterill’s decision is a blow to Ashdown, who has spent his Fratton Park career involved in goalkeeping battles.

Since arriving in the summer of 2004, he has scrapped with the likes of Shaka Hislop, Konstantinos Chalkias, Sander Westerveld, Dean Kiely and David James.

Now he has Henderson to contend with.

But the Pompey manager revealed there was no sulking from the keeper over the weekend setback.

He added: ‘Jamie is fine.

‘At the end of the day, whenever I am leaving players out – no matter who they are – I always sit down and explain it to them.

‘They perhaps always don’t like it at the time but as long as you are honest with them then there are never any problems.

‘And I have an honest bunch.’