Halford praises new defensive sidekick

Jason Pearce has made the most of his first-team chance
Jason Pearce has made the most of his first-team chance
Dion Donohue. Picture: Colin Farmery

New boy’s bitter-sweet Pompey experience

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Greg Halford toasted the return of Pompey’s clean sheets – and hailed the key impact of Jason Pearce.

The duo have struck up an instant rapport after being matched at the heart of the Blues’ defence.

Initially paired against Reading, Halford and Pearce have gone on to amass two shut-outs in as many games.

Before then, Pompey had registered just one clean sheet in their previous 11 matches, stretching back to last season.

The summer arrival of Pearce from Bournemouth in particular has been well-received by Blues supporters impressed with his all-action displays.

Similarly, Halford has also been wowed by the former Pompey trainee.

And he believes the new-look double act can maintain that defensive resilience.

Halford said: ‘It has been a pleasure playing with Pearcey.

‘He has done really well, what you see is what you get.

‘You can see he is an out-and-out defender. He loves going and challenging forwards and, to be honest, going through them.

‘He has come on in leaps and bounds already and done very well.

‘Personally, it is a bit easier to play alongside him. I just let him go and win the headers while I look good just mopping it up!

‘I said in pre-season that for some games you are going to need someone who will just go and dominate – and that is what he does.

‘Pearcey’s brave, he’s not scared of anything, and it is fantastic to have that.

‘He had a good pre-season, got to know all the lads and is now doing really well.’

Last season, while on loan from Wolves, Halford was part of a back four which equalled Pompey’s post-war league record of six successive shut-outs.

That was based on an immediate understanding with Ricardo Rocha as a central-defensive partner.

The former Portugal international was suspended for the last four matches of that campaign and looked off the pace at the start of the current season.

Now Pearce has been given an opportunity after serving a three-match ban carried over from his Dean Court days.

It represents a first season at this level for the 23-year-old.

He previously made 183 appearances for the Cherries, serving in League One and League Two.

And Halford has been impressed with how swiftly the youngster has adapted to the second tier of English football.

Halford added: ‘Considering where he came from, Pearcey has done very well.

‘Sometimes people adapt to the higher levels a lot easier than the lower levels.

‘The lower levels can be a lot more quick with people bombing into the box. It is a different type of game.

‘Yet Pearcey has settled really well into the Championship.

‘I have to say, he has taken to it like a duck to water.’