Portsmouth’s ever-loyal supporters have had more to contend with than most. But having dropped from Premier League to League Two between 2010 and 2013, the South Coast club are now well and truly back on the map.
Having produced a barnstorming run to lift the fourth-tier title on the final day of last season, they could repeat the promotion feat this term.
One point outside the playoffs with four games remaining, could Kenny Jackett’s men make it up to the Championship?
Plenty of pedigree at Fratton Park
The main man in the dugout knows what it takes to make it out of this league. Jackett has won promotion from League One twice, with both Wolverhampton Wanderers and Millwall.
As Lions boss, he did so through the play-offs, with his rock-solid outfit keeping three clean sheets on the trot. And he’s not the only one at Pompey with useful experience for the run-in.
Star striker Brett Pitman made it up to the Premier League with Bournemouth, netting some crucial goals in the run-in. And much of last season’s League Two-winning side are also still plying their trade on the South Coast.
That shows in the composure they’ve played with recently – taking 14 points in the last six games.
Generous run-in favours Jackett’s men
Had they been able to hand-pick them, it’s hard to imagine Pompey could have chosen a more generous-looking fixture list.
Their away trips are to a Bradford City side who’ve taken just six points from 14 games and already-relegated Bury, who have lost seven matches on the trot.
At home, Portsmouth have the chance to kill Charlton Athletic’s slim hopes of a top-six finish. Then on the final day, they face a Peterborough United side who will likely have nothing to play for.
An added bonus lies in the fact that fifth-placed Scunthorpe United play Plymouth Argyle in sixth. Both sit a single point above Portsmouth, and this game will give Jackett’s side a chance to take advantage of at least one of them.
Pitman leading the line in successful system
While Jackett has made minor tweaks to the system, Pompey have retained a defined system. They’ve played four at the back, some variant of a midfield five and a lone striker – usually Pitman – in virtually all-but-one game in 2018.
And with a stable system and a reliable goalscorer, they’re continuing to go from strength to strength. Out wide, Jamal Lowe and Kal Naismith have shown plenty of creativity and a goal threat, while Pitman is as clinical as ever.
The Jersey-born hitman has netted 21 league goals this term, and many have come at the vital time.
He’s grabbed crucial goals in the recent wins against Oldham Athletic, Oxford United and Wigan Athletic – as well as two goals and an assist in last week’s 3-3 thriller at Spotland.
His form, and Pompey’s well-oiled set-up could prove to be the difference in this season’s promotion battle.
It’s 5/4 for a Portsmouth victory at Bradford tonight, while Pitman is 6/4 to Score Anytime.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing