Awford's assessment - Exeter 1-1 Pompey
For a large while at the weekend Pompey, right up their with the bookies as 'favourites' for league two promotion, looked as though Exeter - woes and all - could have beaten us!
A 1st half, best forgotten from those in the stands - and Exeter has to be the worst ground in the world to view a game as a visiting supporter! - saw us go into the break 1-0 down, with it also one that Andy Awford was not happy with...
He might not have 'ranted and raved' as such but he would have made it clear what he expected from his side, and that was not it! Talking to the Pompey Site he said: 'the first half wasn't good enough. We were solid and they didn't create too much, but we didn't move the ball quick enough.
'That was the message to the lads at half-time. We didn't change shape - just asked them to move the ball into wide areas and believe in what they`re doing.'
Whatever was said at half time worked...
There was only one side doing anything for much of the 2nd half, we were literally 'camped in their half' as AA says and as much as Exeter did look like they could have broken a time or two they did not test our goalie at all.
A point was the least we deserved, which could have been more: 'thankfully they listened to that, played better and got a goal - and might have got two or three more.
'We've created enough chances. Andy Barcham went through and there was a penalty appeal. We were camped in their half.
'Exeter were dangerous on the counter-attack, but I don't think Paul Jones was called into action too much.'
The opening day is always a strange one, everyone comes in on a level playing field there are no 'clear favourites' as such and you can often get some 'strange' results so the positive is that we avoided one of those!
AA, rightly so, was much happier with the 2nd half showing with him saying that was of 'the standard we expect from them'.
More showings like the 2nd half one and it will be a decent season, I still worry defensively as against sides better coming forward we WILL be caused problems but we also know that we can create openings and as long as we are patient we will score more, on the whole, than we concede.
Both Jed Wallace and Jack Whatmough, at opposite ends of the pitch, impressed with Whatmough getting into advanced positions a lot!
Wallace though was the one given special mention by AA: 'I thought Jed was excellent. It was a great ball from Nigel Atangana to send him away for the goal and he cut inside and produced a good finish.
'He's always practising that on the training ground - coming inside on his right foot and on to his left.
'It was good technique for the finish and I thought his performance deserved a goal.'
This was more the type of showing we know Wallace can offer, with the speculation surrounding his future gone - of course I am not naïve enough to think a new deal means he will not go - I reckon we will see this type of performance regularly this season, which could be key to our season...
Craig Westcarr, for me, does not work out wide though based on this evidence and that is where he found himself for large periods of the game - I think he is the focal point, or should be, of the attack but then you lose the impact of Ryan Taylor, who I thought led the line pretty well.
I think some of the calls from some fans around me that 'Westcarr is another McLeod' were a bit harsh... Hopefully he will not be, but come on you cannot decide this after one competitive game can you?
Some might also have had their expectation levels revaluated?
Again, this is only one game but for some people to be barracking the players as much as they did when they came off at half time, with some boos too, was way too much for me - my views on booing are well known, and granted we did not play well in the 1st half but ONE 45-minutes of football is all it was for Christ sake!
Do not get me wrong my expectation levels are fairly high for this season but we WILL NOT walk this league, and I do think some need to remember this...
Oh, and a mention must go, following a very impressive showing when he came on, to Nigel Atangana. This guy looks like he could be a real find!
It is hard to say if this was 'a point won' or '2pts dropped' at this stage of the season, yep I thought we would win, perhaps I expected it but I take solace in the fact that we did not lose and I am pretty sure that this is a game that we would have lost last season...
Onwards and upwards!
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