The ‘obsession’ driving Portsmouth towards Championship in battle with Derby County, Bolton Wanderers, Barnsley & Co

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John Mousinho saluted Pompey’s defensive ‘obsession’ fuelling their promotion push.

And the Blues boss highlighted a whole-team approach to defending on the front foot as key to the best clean sheet record in English football.

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Pompey’s 16 shut-outs this term is unsurpassed in the top divisions of the game, while Mousinho’s side have conceded the fewest goals in the division.

The likes of Conor Shaughnessy have pointed to a fierce determination for clean sheets, with even two recent 4-1 wins over Reading and Northampton causing consternation despite the margin of victory.

That’s a trait which Mousinho believes is significant when it comes to Pompey’s defensive record.

He said: ‘It’s down to a lot of things.

‘We start every piece of defending with the way we press high up the pitch.

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‘Hopefully for us if we have Will Norris coming out as man of the match having made 15 or 20 saves we haven’t done our job, even if we keep a clean sheet.

‘It’s something we’ve tried to build on from the second I came through the door, I’ve tried to press high and make it difficult for sides to even get in our half.

‘I think that’s quite right (players being annoyed at conceding in big wins). If we look at the two 4-1s, I felt against Northampton we deserved to keep a clean sheet. I was really pleased, but against Reading we didn’t.

‘That’s not because of their goal, but how we performed in the first half.

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‘But I do like it when the defenders are annoyed if we concede, even in games we’ve won comfortably.

‘It’s a good sign of where we’re at and they have that obsession with trying to keep the ball out of the net.’

Mousinho feels first-team coach Zesh Rehman deserves a lot of plaudits for Pompey’s defensive work among a coaching staff all contributing to the progress.

He added: ‘It’s particularly pleasing for Zesh (Rehman) who takes all the defensive unit work. We’ve come away with a pretty good defensive record so far.’

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‘The more pleasing games, even if we don’t keep clean sheets, is if we restrict the opposition to very, very few chances.

‘There are games where we’ve conceded but been far more pleased with the defensive performance than games where we’ve kept clean sheets.

‘Overall that gets balanced out and I’m really pleased for everyone involved in everything we’ve done.’

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