Adam Webster: Danny Hollands' presence has given Pompey added grit
The clean sheets continue to elude Pompey in the most agonising of circumstances.
But Adam Webster believes the return of Danny Hollands has bolstered the Blues’ defensive powers.
Paul Cook’s side have failed to produce a shut out since January 2 in the 3-0 victory over Crawley.
It is now 11 matches without a clean sheet in all competitions – agony for keeper Ryan Fulton who has lined up in nine of them.
Hollands’ comeback from a broken leg has prompted his inclusion in Pompey’s last two matches, yet still the goals have come.
Last-minute moments for Cambridge United’s Luke Berry and then Ollie Watkins from Exeter in the past week have denied the Blues at the death.
Regardless, Hollands has made an impressive re-emergence from the injury he sustained against Ipswich at Portman Road in January’s FA Cup fixture.
The 30-year-old will once again keep his place for tomorrow’s trip to 20th-placed Stevenage.
And Webster has been delighted at his team-mate’s defensive contribution.
He said: ‘I pretty much agree that Danny was our man of the match against Cambridge.
‘He is very experienced and knows the role well. After being out for six weeks he’s come back in like he hasn’t been away, which is really impressive.
‘Danny is playing really well this season and is a great asset to the team.
‘Ben Close has come in and done really well, but maybe in some games you need the physicality and experience someone like Danny brings to the side.
‘As central defenders, that shield he gives in front of you is second to none – he offers this great protection, which definitely makes us more solid.
‘He is prepared to put himself about, is very comfortable on the ball, and I enjoy having him playing in front of me in that role.
‘How Danny has performed since coming back just shows you how good a player he is, how strong he is and how hard he has worked to get himself to this point.
‘Credit to the physios for getting him back so quickly and helping him to pick up exactly where he has left off.’
Having started the campaign uncertain of his Fratton future under the newly-appointed Paul Cook, Hollands has made 25 appearances this season.
Nigel Atangana and then Adam Barton were initially given the opportunity to impress alongside Michael Doyle in the holding midfield roles.
The former Bournemouth man eventually got his chance at the end of October, with a start against Mansfield.
He subsequently lined up in 14 consecutive matches – a consistent Blues presence which produced seven clean sheets and only two defeats.
During his eight-match absence through a broken leg, Cook’s troops failed to achieve a single shut-out.
They are still searching upon his return, but Hollands has added more grit to the centre of midfield.
Now Pompey travel to the Lamex Stadium hoping to overturn a side lying eight points above the relegation zone.