The Opposition View: Northampton Town

Last updated : 05 May 2016 By Jim Bonner

Let's rewind to December and the reverse fixture when Pompey won 2-1 at Sixfields. What were your thoughts after that defeat?

I actually thought we were pretty unlucky to come away with nothing, it was an end-to-end game and both teams went for the three points and perhaps a draw would have been fair. I wasn't too downhearted about out promotion chances because I felt I saw enough during the game that we'd be able to get over the line but I never thought that would be the last team we lost in the league before the final day!

I also thought that yourselves would kick on but it seems your problems haven't been against your rivals in the top seven but more against the smaller 'park the bus' sides.

What has been the key to your success this season despite all the off-field turmoil?

A real siege mentality developed during the tough times, with the players, staff and supporters really digging in. Whilst not being paid, Chris Wilder really brought out the fighting spirit in the players, the staff kept going about their business admirably and the supporters fought for the future of the club.

That allowed us to keep picking up wins and then, when the takeover was complete, the mentality remained and we moved into another gear. 

Ricky Holmes is a player that Pompey fans know all about but who have been the other important players in your team?

Firstly, thanks to Andy Awford for Ricky. He's an unbelievable player. There are honestly 15 or 16 players you could pick and say 'he's had a superb season' but the main standouts for me are the keeper Adam Smith (best outside the Premier League in my opinion), Buchanan at left back (Mr Consistent - think he's played every minute in the league) and John Joe O'Toole (midfield dynamo). Picking those is a disservice to Rose, Byrom, Diamond, Moloney, Adams, Richards etc who have also all been fantastic.

What are the biggest strengths and weaknesses of this Northampton side?

Strengths: Going forward. We've cut teams apart week-in-week-out this season, people can't live with the pace and movement that we've got going forward and there's usually a goal at the end of it. I also think we're quite solid in defensive midfield, Rose/Byrom and O'Toole really keep the ball moving and have a great eye for getting it to our more dangerous players.

Weaknesses: Defending against pace. We lack pace at centre back so teams with quick forawrds really get at us. Can't really think of anymore.

Portsmouth haven't been in the play-offs since 1993 so our younger fans won't know about them. What was it like for you to experience them in years gone by?

Great when you win but horrific when you lose. It's a great occasion to be involved in, our two semi finals against Cheltenham two years ago were superb days out, celebrating about our trip to Wembley on the pitch at Whaddon Road really sticks out as one of the best memories of my footballing days.

Losing at Wembley was one of the worst. The anticipation, the build up, the excitement and it was all snatched away in the blink of an eye. It's horrific and the worst part is the armchair fans telling you they saw the game and that 'they're crap why do your support them?' 

What kind of match can we expect at Fratton Park on Saturday?

Well, our away end will be in party mode. We played some superb passing football against Luton and completely dominated but I'm not sure it'll be as easy this weekend. I'd like to avoid defeat so we can hold on to our unbeaten run, which would have grown to 24 games should we do so.

Predict the outcome of the game.

2-1 Northampton, and 2,890 Cobblers fans go home happy.