Pompey defensive might serving them well

David Forde is the clean sheet king for Pompey. Picture: Joe Pepler
David Forde is the clean sheet king for Pompey. Picture: Joe Pepler
Mark Catlin is against the Checkatrade Trophy. Picture: Joe Pepler

Revamped – yet Pompey still against Checkatrade Trophy

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NO CLUB outside the Premier League possess a better defensive record than Pompey.

In addition, only Championship leaders Brighton have amassed more clean sheets.

That is the extent of the defensive might driving the Blues’ promotion aspirations.

A magnificent return of 10 goals from their past three fixtures have propelled Paul Cook’s side in League Two’s top three.

Yet continuing to providing the backbone is a rearguard which has also racked up three shut-outs during the same period.

That resilience has ensured Pompey have conceded 31 goals in their 37 league matches so far.

It’s a return also shared by Championship high-fliers Brighton and third-placed League One side Bolton.

In terms of League Two, only Luton can come close to Pompey’s figure, although their 33 goals have come from playing a game fewer.

Leaders Doncaster have let in 12 more than the Blues, while Plymouth have registered nine more, both during the same amount of games.

Cook’s men have also conceded only three goals during the last nine matches, collecting six clean sheets in the process.

In doing so, David Forde has accumulated 17 shut-outs during his ever-present stay in League Two matches.

The veteran has been criticised on occasions this season.

However that figure puts him ahead of Grimsby (15), Exeter (13) and Mansfield (13).

In League One, Fleetwood (16) and Oldham (15) are the leading clubs, albeit the latter curiously residing one place above the relegation zone.

That is in contrast to the Cod Army’s presence at second in the table as they attempt to close the gap on Sheffield United.

In the Championship, leaders Newcastle (15) and Derby (16) feature prominently in the clean sheet stakes.

The Rams, of course, recently sacked Steve McClaren and replaced him with Gary Rowett in attempts to improve on their placing of 10th.

However, neither can compare to Brighton, with a tally of 19 shut-outs – also beating Pompey’s return.

The Seagulls’ keeper for all but one of their 37 league matches has been David Stockdale, a fixture at the club since July 2014.

Chris Hughton’s team are currently kept off top spot by goal difference to Newcastle, as both have 77 points.

Incidentally, Pompey possessed the joint-second best defensive record in League Two last season.

Cook’s men let in 44 goals from 46 matches, despite having issues with their goalkeepers, employing four before the play-offs.

That return of 44 was shared by Wycombe Wanderers.

Oxford United, who claimed second spot, had the best record with 41 conceded.

Runaway leaders Northampton (46) let in two more than Pompey.