Ben Garner reckons a settled backline has been the key to his Charlton Athletic side showing greater defensive stability.
The Addicks have kept clean sheets in two of their last three League One matches, the latest coming in the 3-0 victory over Portsmouth on Monday night.
Centre-backs Ryan Inniss and Eoghan O’Connell both scored with headers against Pompey.
It was Irisham O’Connell’s first goal for the club since a summer move after he allowed his Rochdale terms to expire.
“Eoghan’s been pretty good all season, one of our more consistent performers,” said Garner. “He had a little mistake at Barnsley but he is a very intelligent footballer – he wants to defend but also gives us great quality in possession.
“There is the makings of a nice partnership with him and Ryan.
“I’m really pleased with Ryan, in terms of his availability and the way he has looked after himself. There’s been a nice shift in his mentality, he’s matured as a person and as a player.
“I’ve seen him as a young player [at Crystal Palace] through to now. That’s a credit to how he is living his life and conducting himself on a daily basis.”
The Addicks are unbeaten in League One since a 3-1 loss at Barnsley, collecting eight points from a possible 12.
“Our shape has been good,” said Garner. “Even at Barnsley it was just a couple of mistakes. That’s been our season up to this point – just a little lapse in concentration or an individual error. We had the wonder goal at Barnsley [scored by Josh Benson] but, other than that, it’s just been us shooting ourselves in the foot a little bit.
“It’s helped having a little bit of a settled defensive unit in the last three or four games now, in terms of familiarity. We hadn’t had that – we lost Mandela [Egbo] and Sess [Steven Sessegnon] early on in the season to injury and we’ve had to find a way to get through that period. We’ve done that now and look a lot better defensively.
“We can still improve a great deal with the ball, which is a positive in terms that there is a lot more to come.
PICTURES: KEITH GILLARD
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