Peterhead manager Jim McInally believes the importance of defending well has been demonstrated in the victories they have achieved this season.
The Blue Toon have won two of their opening five League One encounters and won twice in regulation in the League Cup group stage.
In those four victories – against Dundee United and Brechin City in the cup and Clyde and Dumbarton in the league – the Buchan outfit have conceded once.
McInally knows having a solid defensive foundation is vital to earning good results, with the latest shut-out against Dumbarton last weekend particularly pleasing.
Missing Jason Brown and Gary MacKenzie, Simon Ferry had started in central defence, but an early injury to the player-coach forced a reshuffle which saw Kyle Bailey move to centre-back and midfielder Andrew McCarthy slot in at right-back.
Balmoor boss McInally said: “When you look at the games we’ve won, of course you see the importance of good defending.
“The thing is we’ve had a lot of mixing and matching in defence in games as well.
“In most games we’ve played we’ve had to make a first-half substitution.
“On Saturday we had to put Andrew McCarthy to right-back and push Kyle Bailey into centre-half alongside Kieran Freeman, who isn’t the biggest for a centre-half, and then we’ve got Ryan Conroy at left-back, who’s technically a midfielder but has done great at left-back.
“Defending comes from everyone defending properly whether it’s from the front players or the midfielders doing what they should do.
“In the first half against Dumbarton, I felt we didn’t get on enough second balls, but we did in the second half.
“It’s those wee things, the simple things like getting on a second ball. A lot of people don’t think that’s important, but it is.
“The players have shown a lot of character already this season.
“When you take all the circumstances thrown at us and starting the season in the current situation, they’ve just taken it all onboard and given everything.
“Even some of the games we’ve lost the results might have been fairer if they’d been draws.”
Brown returns from suspensions for Saturday’s home game against Forfar, while MacKenzie has also returned to training.
McInally believes more options across the backline will only improve Peterhead’s chances of keeping more clean sheets.
He added: “Clean sheets are brilliant to get and that’s always what your aim is before a game to try to keep a clean sheet.
“When everybody is fit it will give us a lot of different options in defence.
“On Saturday we started with two of the smallest centre-halves you’ll probably see starting a game in this league in Simon and Kieran.
“But we know we’ve got Gary and Jason coming back who are bigger and more dominant at set pieces and things like that.
“It’s nice to have the options and I’m sure we’ll have them pretty soon.”