Awford's assessment - Oxford 0-1 Pompey
They often say that the mark of a good side is the collecting of points when you are 'not at your best'.
Pompey, from the sounds of it, were not at our best - based on the performances from the Exeter 2nd half onwards really - against Oxford on Saturday but tellingly still won 1-0!
Andy Awford, talking on the Pompey Site after the game, conceded that we were not at this best, that we have come to almost expect under him, and could not get any 'momentum' going, especially in the 1st half.
We 'dug in' and 'had some luck' to get the points though: 'good teams win games when they're not necessarily playing at their best.
'We didn't play as well as we can in the first half - the standard wasn't quite what we set ourselves in recent games.
'So to dig in, get the result and come away with three hard-earned points is excellent.
'We kept giving the ball away too easily and it meant that we couldn't gain any momentum.
'We had a little bit of luck when the ball was bouncing around our box and they hit the post - sometimes it goes for you and sometimes it doesn't.'
An improved 2nd half and all round 'team performance' saw us get the job done though!
Had it not been for Paul Jones, who continues to impress early in his Pompey career, we would and probably could, if not should, have been some 2 or 3 goals down by the time we scored.
AA branded his contribution 'excellent', which based on the commentary I heard and the limited highlights I have so far seen of his saves, he was.
Yet again though his tactical awareness showed, and paid off!
Some might have taken Craig Westcarr off when Ryan Taylor came on, but the pair stayed on and Taylor's 'physical presence' was a telling factor in Westcarr's winning goal, his second in as many games.
Also, again, we went with the 3 central defenders and wingbacks.
Ricky Holmes seemingly struggling with this on the afternoon, and on a yellow card, AA again also showed that he would not 'take a risk' and hooked him off at half time to ensure we did not repeat what happened the weekend before - logical choice I know but not all managers are logical are they!
Some 'difficult decisions' can, and have, been bottled by others...
Bringing on another defender, when Jack Whatmough - or was it Jack Wilshere with a wig? - came on for the closing minutes was also a spot on move.
Ok, again perhaps logical in some people's eyes - and so it proved - but is was also seen as a bit negative, and perhaps risky as it invited too much pressure on the defence, by some others?
At the time of listening I felt it a sound, and the right, move and so it proved as we got the job done.
It would be lovely to see Pompey playing free flowing, exciting football all the time but I think we all know that this will not always be possible and we will sometimes have 'an off day' or a team will either be exceptionally good against us and/or prevent us from playing.
Oxford seemed a case of them playing pretty well and us having that off day.
Although in a 'results based business' AA got another one and, although still very early in the season, it points again to us being a 'very good side' potentially this as this is what sides of that level, even the great ones, do when they are not at there best!
I cannot wait for midweek now, we can go into the Stoke league cup game free from pressure and not be 'the favourites' for a change as we look for another 'cupset', then it is back to league business next weekend at Fratton - hopefully when we not only get another result but have the performance to go with it...
PLAY UP POMPEY!
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