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 The Portsmouth build up

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PostSubject: The Portsmouth build up   Thu Apr 12, 2018 2:25 am

Portsmouth view

A play-off port battle which doesn’t need the hype


It’s Plymouth’s biggest game of the season,. It’s also, in slightly curious fashion, been labelled the most eagerly-anticipated port battle in years down Devon way, as the two naval rivals are reunited this weekend. That moniker does a slight disservice to the two dust-ups last season in the race for League Two supremacy. And, of course, there was the small matter of a play-off double-header 23 months ago, which seemed quite important at the time. Of course, the Dockyard Derby label will continue to be applied ahead of the meeting between the two sides at Home Park this weekend.

The arguments which shoot down that title have now become as tired as the cliched billing itself. The 64th meeting between Plymouth and Pompey is one which assumes substantial significance in the bid to make the play-offs, though. For both teams. That’s really all the build-up this match needs. Yes, there’s a historical rivalry between the two cities borne out of their naval heritage. That undoubtedly was ramped up through the Paul Cook era, culminating in the championship being seized in such dramatic style. But Cook’s exit burst the contempt which had grown through six meetings in two seasons. Instead of Cook, it’s Jackett v Adams this weekend. Which is a bit like substituting Kofi Annan for Muhammad Ali and trying to sell a fight with Joe Frazier.

Plymouth go into the game with the status of the division’s form side – and look a decent bet to finish in the top six. Quite something when they were bottom on December 9. Pompey’s season of transition, meanwhile, has been given meaning by improved form of late. Those are the circumstances which shape the latest meeting. It doesn’t need the hyperbole

By  Jordan Cross

Pompey will need cool heads in play-off tussle

Eyes are now beginning to be cast towards this weekend’s trip to play-off rivals Plymouth.

Supporters are weighing up the significance of the meeting and Kenny Jackett’s selection options at Home Park.

And Nicke Kabamba’s goal for Aldershot at the weekend has brought him back on the radar of supporters, who look at whether he could still have a role to play at Fratton Park.

Here’s a selection of those views.

• We have to go into the Plymouth game with the right mentality, be prepared for a battle but keep our heads at all times! No unnecessary red cards and no long-term injuries - just get a result!

Peter Walsh

• Plymouth’s the toughest match left to play. A win would be brilliant but I’d take a draw because I think we’ll win the rest of our matches and get into the play-off spots.

Bob Ford

• Looking forward to this close encounter, obviously tensions will be very high and the players who can manage it the best throughout the game surely will be at an advantage and the difference between winning or getting beat.

Hope guys like Nathan Thompson, who tends to stick his boot in sometimes, doesn’t get too carried away during what is going to be a very tense atmosphere.

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Portsmouth lose key man to injury ahead of Plymouth Argyle clash

Portsmouth have suffered a blow ahead of their game against Plymouth Argyle on Saturday, with defender Anton Walkes ruled out.

The on-loan Tottenham man has played in each of their last 12 matches, after signing for the side in January.

The 21-year-old had played for Atlanta United in the MLS prior to his move to Pompey.

But a hamstring injury will keep him out of the game at Home Park, although Portsmouth's assistant manager is confident of those in contention to replace him.

Speaking of the injury Gallen said: "We were hoping that it was going to be cramp, but that’s not the case and there is a hamstring strain.

“It’s always tough to put a time on those injuries, although he certainly won’t be fit for Saturday’s game or the one next Tuesday.

“We’re disappointed by that of course, but there are enough good players here to be able to fill in for us.

Walkes’ replacement

That leaves Kenny Jackett agonising over Walkes’ replacement as the holding midfielder to screen his back four.

According to Joe Gallen, the likes of Stuart O’Keefe, Connor Ronan, Ben Close and Dion Donohue all come into the reckoning.

And with Saturday’s crucial trip to Plymouth looming, the Blues’ management continue to mull over the ideal candidate.

Pompey’s assistant boss said: ‘From a personal point of view, it is disappointing for Anton to be injured, but I just know we have players capable of playing in that role and playing it well.

‘Ben Close and Stuart O’Keefe, for example, can definitely go in there and play.

‘Also vying for that place is Connor Ronan, who is not as experienced but a very good player, and we’ve put Dion Donohue in there for a couple of games before.

‘There are a number of options. We could also rearrange and change the formation around a little to suit what we’ve got and the opposition, there are a few decisions to be made in the next few days.

‘If O’Keefe gets his chance I am sure he will take it with both hands, while since Connor’s come from Wolves he’s impressed everyone with his football and intelligence and could easily come in.

‘If Dion plays in there he has a left foot which others don’t and gives us a nice balance. We think he is capable of playing in midfield and capable of scoring from midfield if given a run at it.

‘That would mean Brandon, who played very well against Oldham and Wigan, coming in at left-back.

‘Whoever gets the slot, I just know we have enough fit players with enough quality and belief that we can go to Plymouth and put in a good performance.’

O’Keefe’s timely re-emergence surely puts him at the head of the list to replace Walkes.

He featured for 30 minutes from the bench in last weekend’s 3-3 draw at Rochdale.

And Gallen believes the 27-year-old is ready to start – if called upon.

He added: ‘O’Keefe came on at Rochdale and had a galvanizing effect, which he tends to do with fellow players and the crowd.

‘He is one of those players who make everyone around him play a little better, has a good energy about him and is a very good professional.

‘I think he is ready to start, it was important he got on last weekend.

‘Stuart has been training well as always, with plenty of enthusiasm, aggression and talking, all the things he brings.

‘But it’s not the same as getting out there properly, he now feels he is ready to start.’

Pompey's play-off charge was given a boost

As Charlton failed to take advantage of their game in hand.

The Addicks - level on 62 points with the Blues - were defeated 1-0 at AFC Wimbledon.

Lyle Taylor netted the only goal of the game for the Dons in first-half stoppage time.

It means both Pompey and Charlton are finely poised with five League One matches remaining - although Lee Boywer's side have a better goal difference.

The Addicks travel to Fratton Park on April 21.

By THE SPORTS DESK

Plymouth Argyle view  

Pompey visit is Plymouth’s ‘biggest game of the season’

Paul Wotton believes Plymouth Argyle will relish the big-match atmosphere at Home Park. Kenny Jackett’s Pompey travel to Devon to face their fellow League One play-off chasers on Saturday (3pm).

The game is the latest in a series of hotly-contested encounters between the sides, including the League Two play-off semi-final in 2016. Meanwhile, Pompey beat Plymouth to the fourth-tier title in a thrilling finale to last season. Another fierce battle is in prospect and Wotton wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Pilgrims’ first-team coach told the Plymouth Herald: ‘It’s the biggest game of the season. ‘Portsmouth always travel really well with their support. ‘And with our support, I think tickets are like gold dust at the minute. ‘It’s a game we are looking forward to and I’m sure Portsmouth are as well. ‘It’s always had that rivalry, even when I was watching. ‘The Paul Cook era just took it to another level. ‘There is an added bit of spice to the game. ‘It’ll be a full house here and hopefully a good game. ‘It’s great to come out, run out the tunnel and see green and white everywhere. ‘Once the first tackle goes in, or the first bit of good play, or a corner, and you hear that roar, it’s brilliant. ‘Anyone who says it doesn’t lift them is mistaken.’

After a slow start to the campaign, Plymouth currently sit one point ahead of Pompey in the table. Wotton added: ‘We’re in a good place right now. It’s been a fantastic turnaround. ‘We always believed we had good players. ‘The players stuck at it, the manager stuck at it and the fans stuck with us. ‘We’re getting rewards for working hard on a daily basis. ‘The players and staff work tremendously hard. ‘It’s been a really good upturn and let’s hope we keep it going

by The News Sports Desk
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