BLACKPOOL manager Michael Appleton thinks he may finally be getting somewhere in solving his side’s defensive frailties.
Reducing the number of goals conceded was among Appleton’s top targets when he replaced Ian Holloway in November.
Pool have looked much more solid in the two games since they shipped four at Middlesbrough, drawing both and conceding only a wonder goal to Fulham’s Giorgos Karagounis in the FA Cup.
And that’s something which pleases Appleton, who revealed: “I’ve asked my players to enjoy defending.
“If you can enjoy defending, then you’ll enjoy winning games, picking up points and going through to the next round of cup competitions.
“I like to make sure my players get the basics right. I thought we defended really well against a good Fulham side on Saturday and we kept our discipline.
“Hopefully, if we can take that into our league campaign we’ll get many more victories.
“We showed the players lots of examples about how we would have to defend against Fulham. We knew they’d get the ball down the side of us.
“It wasn’t just one or two players who put their bodies on the line, they all did on Saturday.”
One defender who has thrived in recent weeks is centre-back Kirk Broadfoot.
The Scotland international was questioned by many supporters when he first broke into the side at right-back.
But since being moved to the middle, the 28-year-old has been excellent and was man of the match at Craven Cottage.
Appleton said: “Kirk was one the players a few fans questioned me on when I first brought him into the team.
“He’s a natural defender who loves defending. He really enjoys heading the ball and blocking things.
“You only have to look how many times he puts his body on the line for us to see how important he’s become for us.
“He and Alex Baptiste were very strong on Saturday and they had to be.”
Appleton rested regular left-back Stephen Crainey for the cup-tie in favour of Bob Harris, who gave a superb performance.
That means the Pool boss has a big selection decision to make ahead of Saturday’s Championship clash at Charlton.
Appleton admitted: “I said to Crains and Bob that I’m open to either of them playing. I’ve told Bob that the biggest problem he has is that Stephen is one of our most consistent performers. It’s a healthy battle we’ve got for that left-back role.
“Saturday was a good chance to play Bob and I’ll have a big decision to make this week for Charlton. It was good to give Bob some game time.”