Why Portsmouth look good value for League One promotion

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Times are finally good again for Portsmouth’s long-suffering and famously loyal fanbase.

The Fratton Park outfit won the League Two title last season. And following a great run of form, they now sit just three points outside the play-off spots in the third tier, and nine below the automatic spots.

So, what’s been behind their success this term? And can they continue to motor up the table?

Defensive dynamos

Pompey have now chalked up five clean sheets in their past seven League One outings. They’ve been especially solid at home, with Kenny Jackett’s men having shipped the joint-third fewest goals on their own patch – six in 10 games.

Former Dagenham & Redbridge ace Oliver Hawkins is being transformed into a solid centre-back. He seems to have built an instant rapport with classy youngster Matt Clarke at the heart of defence.

With pace on the flanks, they’re also a threat coming forward. Though there’s no debate about who Pompey’s top man in front of goal is…

Pitman the hitman banging them in

Brett Pitman has been racking up goals in the Football League for over a decade, and the 29-year-old is enjoying some of the best form of his career at Fratton Park.

The forward has endured a few injury niggles this term, but has still managed to chalk up 12 goals in his 16 League One appearances so far.

Absolutely lethal from close range, especially in the air, he’s built a strong understanding with winger Matthew Kennedy – whose three assists this term have all been for Pitman goals.

Jackett’s pedigree could be vital

When it comes crunch time, Pompey have the ideal man in their hotseat. Jackett won this division with fellow fallen-giants Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2013-14.

His Wolves side went from strength to strength, winning 17 and losing just one of their last 21 games of the campaign.

Having also won promotion via the playoffs from this level with Millwall in 2010, the experienced gaffer knows what it takes to navigate the pressure of that stage. With League One looking especially tight this year, the 55-year-old’s experience could be the crucial ‘X factor’ which brings Portsmouth fans promotion joy.

Current set-up paying dividends

Talking of Jackett, the former Wales international has built a solid, reliable tactical set-up which is working wonders at Fratton Park.

His side have played a 4-3-2-1 system in virtually every game this season, and while opponents know to expect it – they just can’t combat it.

It’s a set-up his largely consistent side seem very well-drilled in, with Pompey’s results and performances going from strength to strength.

Last Saturday, the Hampshire club won 1-0 away triumph at play-off rivals Charlton Athletic. That was just the Addicks’ second home league defeat in 14 games.

Portsmouth look well priced to win a second successive promotion at 9/2, while it’s 6/5 they finish the season in the top six.

Next up is a home game against Bury on Saturday. Pompey are 4/6 to beat a Shakers side who haven’t won away in the league since February.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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Dave Burin

Dave graduated with an MA in English Literature at Durham University, and worked in marketing before joining the Ladbrokes News team. A Man United fan and avid groundhopper, he’s also an ardent follower of Rugby League. You can usually find him at a ground near you, clutching a big cup of tea.