Nathan Thompson feels Pompey’s remarkable defensive record has been the platform for their League One title charge.
Keeper Craig MacGillivray recorded his 10th clean sheet of the season in the Blues’ 2-0 victory against Southend on Saturday.
Chris Powell’s visitors rarely looked like scoring at Fratton Park and failed to muster a solitary shot on target.
Kenny Jackett’s men thoroughly deserved all three points, with Michael Turner’s own goal and a Jamal Lowe header before half-time delivering the hosts their success.
Pompey have conceded just 15 goals in their pursuit of promotion.
The boss has rarely changed his rearguard this campaign and Thompson believes it’s paying dividends.
The right-back said: ‘The back five have been so consistent this season.
‘That’s given us a real platform to build on.
‘When you have the likes of Ronan and Jamal either side there’s impetus for us.
‘I didn’t know it was 10 clean sheets and that is massive.
‘It’s a massive return. The gaffer told us at the start of the season that we need to be conceding zeros and ones, with less goals conceded than matches played.
‘We’re able to do that and that’s why we’re in the position that we’re in.
‘It’s a real consistent back five the gaffer is able to put out and that enables you to bring out partnerships and understanding of each other’s game. You’re seeing the results of that.
‘You look at the teams that got automatically promoted last season (Wigan and Blackburn).
‘They had solid foundations. We’re nearly halfway through the season and if we can build on that at the turn, we’ll give ourselves a real opportunity going into the second half of the campaign.’
Pompey moved six points clear at the top of the table with their triumph against Southend – and another step closer to the Championship.
The Shrimpers had more of the ball in the second half without ever seriously threatening the hosts.
Thompson heaped praise on the professional Blues display as they comfortably retained their lead.
He added: ‘The manager said before the game they’ll probably be mid-table come the end of the year.
‘They’ve got real technicians in the team. He felt we had more pace and power and we were able to dominant in the first half.
‘In the second half it was more about making sure we were professional and seen the game out – we’ve done that so well.
‘Although second-half performances probably haven’t been the best over the course of the season, we’ve been able to be professional – credit to the lads.
‘Every team is going to have their little period and it’s important you don’t give them any impetus.’