Defensive solidarity can aid Blues’ survival bid

Aaron Mokoena was handed a start for Pompey at Reading
Aaron Mokoena was handed a start for Pompey at Reading
Conor Chaplin in action against Northampton. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey’s Checkatrade kick-off time rescheduled

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Aaron Mokoena believes Pompey’s defensive solidity can provide the foundations to stave off relegation.

The South African international returned to the side at Reading last night in the absence of the ill Tal Ben Haim and turned in a solid shift at right-back.

But while Pompey looked disciplined and well-drilled in defence, their one lapse cost them the only goal of the game as Noel Hunt found space to net the first-half winner.

Mokoena was disappointed with the error, but was keen to focus on the positives.

He said: ‘Shutting the back door is the most important thing.

‘We conceded only one goal and we know we should have done better with that.

‘But that was our only mistake – we looked solid.

‘The way we applied ourselves in this game and the way we applied ourselves against Leeds can really help us to get through.

‘It’s difficult to come to places like Reading and we know how difficult it is to come to a team that is going for promotion.

‘We can’t ask for much more on what we have done in this game.’

Mokoena also remains positive the squad’s battling qualities can get them back in the hunt to avoid relegation to League One.

He said: ‘We have to keep doing what we are doing. It’s all about attitude.

‘These are hard times – everyone can understand that.

‘But the attitude among the boys can help us to get through.

‘We haven’t lost hope. We’ve got seven or eight games at home and it’s possible.

‘We showed application and commitment (against Reading) and we will need a lot more of that.’

While Mokoena lamented the loss of key players Erik Huseklepp and Liam Lawrence in recent weeks as the club tries to stay afloat, he is still confident the club has enough quality to stay in the division.

He said: ‘It’s hard losing influential players – of course it is.

‘Hopefully, it won’t happen any more.

‘We need as many influential and good players as possible and it gets harder and harder when we keep seeing them leave.

‘Whatever happens, happens.

‘But whoever is involved at this club will show determination, application and commitment. We cannot ask for more than that.

‘With the experience we have in the dressing room, we can get through this.’