Portsmouth vs Plymouth Preview

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 13 April 2017

Third-placed Pompey take on second-placed Plymouth in front of the Sky cameras at Fratton Park tomorrow looking to move to within one point of their opponents.

Team News

Paul Cook has no new injury worries ahead of tomorrow's match with Eoin Doyle and Noel Hunt out until the end of the season.

Derek Adams also has no fresh injury concerns as the former Pompey trio of Sonny Bradley, Jake Jervis and Ryan Taylor all look set to start against their former club.

The Match

The Eisner takeover talk may have overshadowed this match slightly but there can be no understating just how big this game is. The rivalry between the two clubs (and staff, for that matter) has naturally grown with both sets of supporters desperate for an important three points in their teams' promotion challenge.

Talk of the nightmare scenario of Argyle winning promotion at Fratton Park has been played down due to Luton's likely victory over the mess that is Leyton Orient tomorrow but whatever happens, the final whistle from tomorrow's match will be blown half an hour before the rest of the League Two fixtures therefore any celebration would be premature, even if Plymouth fans are used to that notion.

Cook has a dilemma on his hands tomorrow in whether he sticks with the same eleven that started against Yeovil or start Conor Chaplin up top against Plymouth's brutes so Kal Naismith can continue to work his magic in midfield. It's a tough conundrum, that's for sure.

As for the match, expect Pompey to dominate possession with Argyle looking to hit them on the break and take advanatge of any set-pieces they're given. Because of the way the Blues like to play, the fear is that those tactics will play right into Plymouth's hands but on the other hand, showing some early dominance and scoring an early goal or two would really raise the Fratton roof!

Of course, no Pompey fan will be content during this game until their team are holding a comfortable lead in the dying minutes. The painful memories of the two late goals killing hopes of automatic promotion last season remain and Argyle have scored so many late goals this season, even the best defence in the league will have to stay alert for the entire game.

Another key aspect for this match will be to keep calm given the needle between both sets of players and what's at stake. Nobody wants to see someone like Gareth Evans receive a red card for a rough challenge based on his comments in the media today.

Given that Luton and Stevenage have very winnable home games tomorrow, a defeat to Plymouth would not only see hopes of the runners-up spot dissipate but the gap between Pompey and the play-offs would be cut and the nerves would certainly creep in.

Promotion won't be on tomorrow, but a huge step towards League One is on offer for both sides and for Pompey, the chance of some redemption after what happened last season. Let's hope they take that chance.

Predicted Starting Line-Ups

Pompey

GK: David FORDE

RB: Gareth EVANS

CB: Christian BURGESS

CB: Matt CLARKE

LB: Enda STEVENS

DM: Michael DOYLE

DM: Danny ROSE

RM: Carl BAKER

AM: Gary ROBERTS

LM: Kyle BENNETT

CF: Kal NAISMITH

Plymouth

GK: Luke McCORMICK

RB: Oscar THRELKELD

CB: Sonny BRADLEY

CB: Yann SONGO'O

LB: Gary SAWYER

DM: Danny FOX

DM: Antoni SARCEVIC

RM: Matty KENNEDY

AM: Jake JERVIS

LM: Graham CAREY

CF: Ryan TAYLOR

Last Time: Portsmouth 2 Plymouth Argyle 2 (League Two Play-Off Semi-Final First Leg - 12/05/2016)

Marc McNulty fired Pompey into the lead after just three minutes but Jamille Matt equalised soon after and then should have been sent off. He wasn't and he then gave Argyle the lead before Gary Roberts' penalty in the second half restored parity to set up a tense second leg at Home Park.

My Prediction

Half of my heart believes Pompey will gain revenge in some style and trounce Argyle despite them having the best away record in the division but the other half fears Plymouth shihousing yet another jammy result on the road courtesy of one of the ex-Pompey lads.

Therefore, I'll follow my head and go for a draw which wouldn't be the worst result in the circumstances.

Portsmouth 1 Plymouth Argyle 1

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