DAVID FORDE’S key role in Pompey’s promotion push has been saluted.
And Paul Cook paid tribute to the keeper’s contribution to the Blues’ improved defensive resilience.
Forde played an important role in securing three precious points to extend the gap over fourth-placed Stevenage to six points on Saturday.
Two vital saves from Marlon Jackson proved key to gaining the win as Newport County pushed forward late on at Fratton Park.
The Republic of Ireland has faced criticism this term, but strong form has silenced his critics.
Forde has kept 18 clean sheets and was last week named in the EFL League Two team of the year.
Cook feels the 37-year-old has helped eradicate a weakness from set-pieces and high balls into the box Pompey showed last season.
And Forde’s confidence is flowing as the season reaches its climax.
Cook said: ‘David Forde is really good around the place.
‘He’s coming into training with a smile on his face every day.
‘Our lads are now getting more comfortable playing for the club.
‘He’s been excellent. He really has.
‘David has been a colossus, and, touch wood that will continue now.
‘He’s everything you want him to be. He’s a man.
‘The way he just comes and catches those crosses is a testament to his ability.
‘The way in which he came and caught that corner late on was why we signed him. Full stop.
‘Last season we conceded goals to the likes of Plymouth in those moments.
‘We don’t seem to concede those goals now – and long may it last.’
Forde has been joined in the League Two team of the year by Enda Stevens and Christian Burgess.
That meant Pompey picked up the most places in the team from any single club.
Cook feels that is recognition for the solidity displayed by his side this term.
It’s not all been plain sailing for Forde, however, with some mistakes falling at his door across the campaign.
That has led to some criticism from a section of Pompey supporters.
Cook explained he has taken flak in his stride and with a pinch of salt.
He said: ‘Fordey, eh! He has a laugh about it (the criticism).
‘The lads have had a great year defensively.
‘Matt Clarke and Gareth Evans has been smashing for us at right-back.
‘I’m not sure about teams of the year, but I got in one or two and felt quite proud about it!
‘It’s good to be recognised and trying to get some recognition.
‘The most important thing for me is trying to get promoted. We have to get this club up this season.
‘It’s thoroughly deserved and they are all great lads.’