Devera praise for ‘solid’ start to season

Joe Devera, centre, joins the celebrations after Craig Westcarr scored against Northampton earlier this season Picture: Joe Pepler
Joe Devera, centre, joins the celebrations after Craig Westcarr scored against Northampton earlier this season Picture: Joe Pepler

The league campaign has reached double figures – and Pompey are hammering on the play-off door.

A bright start for the Blues, certainly in the eyes of Joe Devera.

This time last year Guy Whittingham’s men were lying in 15th spot with 12 points from their opening 10 games.

Currently, Andy Awford’s Pompey sit in eighth with a return of 15 points.

Kept out of the play-offs courtesy of goal difference, they are also seven points off the top of League Two.

A highly-encouraging position, even if the long season has only just entered October.

Next up is York – the scene for one of the Blues’ worst displays last term, with a 4-2 defeat under Whittingham.

Yet Awford’s men approach the occasion from a far loftier perch, accompanied by a greater optimism.

Devera said: ‘I think the start to the season has been okay, there is only room to improve.

‘Looking at a position of eighth at this stage, there is the chance for us to go higher and keep trying to get up the table.

‘It has definitely been a positive start, solid and a lot better than last year.

‘There is a lot to look at and take out of our games. I know Hartlepool was a draw and we could have won but the point keeps us climbing the table.

‘Once we start scoring goals, hopefully, there will come a time when we start getting right up there.

‘Regardless, it has been a good start and I am enjoying it.

‘The whole team is pitching in as a squad to keep clean sheets and there’s a good environment in the camp.

‘As long as the club stays positive we will keep going and working towards it, moving up that league.’

There were 1,357 Pompey fans in the Bootham Crescent crowd of 4,848 for last season’s trip to York.

They witnessed an abject display which sparked changes on and off the field of play in the clamour to ensure there would be no repeat.

John Sullivan never played for the Blues again following his performance, which included dropping a corner to allow Lewis Montrose to score.

That would be the Minstermen midfielder’s only goal of the campaign in all competitions.

The following Monday, Trevor Carson was brought in on loan from Bury and handed the goalkeeper’s shirt for the remainder of the season.

Sullivan’s time at Fratton Park was ultimately hindered by depression and he is currently playing for Whitehawk in the Vanamara Conference South.

Meanwhile, Alan Knight left Whittingham’s back-room staff as goalkeeping coach in the days following that defeat.

He was replaced by Dave Coles before Whittingham’s eventual replacement, Richie Barker, recruited Anthony Williams for the role.

As for York, they finished the campaign in seventh spot before going out in the play-offs to Fleetwood over two legs.

Worthington’s men are struggling during the current campaign, lying two points off the relegation zone.

They have also won one of their past 15 matches in all competitions – a run stretching back to last season.