Devera demands return of those familiar clean sheets

Joe Devera in defensive mode against Cheltenham at the weekend Picture: Joe Pepler
Joe Devera in defensive mode against Cheltenham at the weekend Picture: Joe Pepler

His last visit to League Two saw Joe Devera dine out regularly on a diet of clean sheets.

It’s not quite the same scenario on his return to the table, nonetheless the 26-year-old defender’s pedigree is unquestionable.

Devera was the defensive mainstay of the Swindon side who took the title under Paolo Di Canio in the 2011-12 campaign.

The former Barnet man made 28 league appearances that season – picking up 15 clean sheets in the process.

That included six successive League Two shut outs from March 20 to April 14, 2012.

These days, Devera plays in a Pompey defence who have conceded 12 goals from six League Two games, with one solitary clean sheet.

The trip to Cheltenham on Saturday saw a fourth goal shipped during the final five minutes of a league match and marked the fifth time the Blues have surrendered a lead.

Certainly, nobody needs to lecture Devera on the importance on eradicating that lingering defensive headache.

He said: ‘The frustrating part is the same sort of thing keeps happening all the time – we need to learn fast.

‘If we want to do well in League Two, it has got to come from clean sheets.

‘Every team in this league who gets clean sheets know they are going to be up there.

‘That is the very frustrating thing. We are playing very good football and always look like the better team.

‘It’s no good doing that when you are drawing and losing games, though.

‘It’s a very fine line. In the last few games, how they (the opposition) have got back into games I will never know.

‘We have been the better team and it got away from us in the final few minutes. That is hard to take.

‘I would actually say the defence is starting to feel a bit solid now – me, Sonny (Bradley) and the full-backs are working hard in training.

‘I’m settled in and enjoying it down here. Unfortunately, we just need to start winning some games, getting up there and going on a run.

‘And getting clean sheets to help us.’

Devera has been matched in a central-defensive partnership with Bradley for five of those league games.

It’s an understanding which is beginning to develop and Devera has been impressed with the youngster from Hull.

‘I didn’t really know a lot about Sonny before I came here but he has been very good,’ said Devera.

‘He’s a young, up-and-coming player, solid and a good centre-half. He’s had a very good start and done very well.

‘I speak to him on my thoughts about our performances often.

‘We have got to make sure we have a good understanding.’