Marlon Pack reveals driving force behind Portsmouth's League One title charge ahead of Bolton game and how Blues got through mid-season blip

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Pompey secured just five points from a possible 18 around the turn of the year as many questioned their promotion credentials

Marlon Pack has praised head coach John Mousinho for guiding Pompey through their rough patch around Christmas and New Year.

The Fratton Park skipper also believes the Blues’ response to their troubles around the turn of the year is testament to the group of players assembled at PO4 in recent transfer windows.

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Pompey suffered a mid-season blip as they recorded just one win and suffered three loses in six outings as their promotion credentials came into focus. That saw the Blues surrender a seven-point advantage at the top of the table heading into their 1-1 draw with Fleetwood at Fratton Park on December 23 to being just a point clear of nearest rivals Peterborough - who had a game in hand - following a surprise 3-0 home loss to Leyton Orient in mid-January.

Since then, though, Pompey have gone on a season-defining 15 match unbeaten run that has them on the brink of both promotion and securing the League One title.

According to Pack, that’s all down to the boss and his coaching team as they steered the team through those choppy waters. Speaking to Sky Sports News ahead of the Blues’ trip to Bolton - a game that could see Pompey win the league - the club captain said: ‘In all fairness, it came down to the management team and the gaffer, in particular.

‘Throughout the season we’ve remained consistent in what we’ve done, whether that’s our behaviours around the training pitch, the attitude, the way we’ve trained, the way we’ve analysed games, post and pre-match (actions).

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‘So it’s more to do with the gaffer making sure that we continue to believe in what we’re doing, which we did, and if you saw those games, there was few and far between (the teams) in much of them and it was just a case of you’re up against some good sides in this division and you’re not guaranteed to win every game. But I think it’s testament to us as a group as well and the way we’ve bounced back from that and gone on the run we have done.’

Pompey can secure both promotion and the league title with a win at Bolton - but only if Derby fail to beat Wycombe on Wednesday night. That ramps up the pressure on the Blues to get the job done. But Pack believes it’s a challenge the group is relishing.

He said: ‘There’s two sides to it (Pompey’s preparations). Yes, it’s another game and three points at stake as normal, but I don’t think you should hide from the fact that the opportunity that we have on Saturday is what we ‘ve been working towards since the start of the season, since this new group came in and since pre-season when all the lads committed to trying to achieve something this year. 

‘I think we’ve gone about our business really well, the stuff off the pitch that I’ve been really pleased with as captain, we’ve tried to create something this year in and around the dressing room, in and around the club - and I think we’re seeing the benefits of that one the football pitch.

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‘We’ve still got some really tough fixtures, especially on Saturday away to Bolton who are one of the best sides in the league with a fantastic home record - so we’re just not getting carried away yet.’

Pompey head into the weekend eight points clear of second-placed Derby and nine better off than Bolton. All three teams have four games remaining and a maximum of 12 points to play for.

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