Plymouth Provide Tough Test for Pompey’s Play-Off Ambitions
Portsmouth face a tough test on Saturday against Plymouth. A win guarantees Pompey overtake Plymouth into a play-off position.
We break down the statistics to analyse who will come out on top in Saturday’s crucial fixture.
A historic look at Plymouth vs Portsmouth
Pompey have won only one of the last five games at Home Park. The last time Pompey won at Home Park was back in August 2015, thanks to goals from Matt Tubbs and Gary Roberts.
However, neither Tubbs nor Roberts now play for Pompey and this is a different squad who travel to Home Park. Both sides are in a superb form approaching this fixture. How does both clubs recent form stack up against each other?
Last ten games – Plymouth Home vs Portsmouth Away
At first glance, this table is bleak reading for Pompey fans, with Plymouth being better or equal in every category, except shots per game. However, after closer inspection, Pompey and Plymouth are more even than first meets the eye. Both teams have scored in nine out of ten games and scored first in six of these.
What stands out is that Plymouth has been the more clinical side, converting 25% of their shots on goal. Pompey meanwhile have only converted 18%.
There is hope for Pompey fans as their recent away form has significantly improved. Let us calm our nerves everyone and look at the last six games.
Last six games – Plymouth Home vs Portsmouth Away
In the last six-games, Pompey have upped their performance level. While Plymouth are undefeated in all six, Pompey have only lost once. It will not be an easy task, as Plymouth have wins against Peterborough, Bristol Rovers and Blackburn amongst those victories. Plymouth will want to add Pompey to that list.
Plymouth and Portsmouth have both been scoring goals. It may sound obvious, but Portsmouth will need to take their chances as Plymouth is clinical in front of goal (25% conversion rate discussed earlier).
How can Pompey win this fixture?
Pitman will need to come up big according to the away statistics, who lead Pompey’s away goals with six. Carey is the danger man for Plymouth at home, scoring eight in the last twenty home games. It will be no surprise to Pompey fans he is joined by Brett Pitman in the analysis below.
Players to Watch
The talented left-sided midfielder has had a fantastic season, leading the Pilgrims with fourteen goals and twelve assists, in all competitions.
Plymouth’s talisman is not only a threat in front of goal, but his fourteen assists also lead the Pilgrims.
Carey was the centre of a controversial sending off last Saturday in the 2-1 win over Peterborough. The Posh’s Liam Shephard tussled with Carey off the ball, getting a red card. The controversy did not end there as the Football Association overturned the red card. Even when not scoring or creating goals, Carey is in the spotlight.
Anton Walkes has played very well in holding midfield, which has protected Pompey’s back line very effectively and allowed Ben Close to get the ball forward. Walkes is unfortunately out with a pulled hamstring. How Jackett goes about filling this void will be critical to keeping Carey at bay.
A straight swap for the now fit Stuart O’Keefe makes the most sense.
Can Pitman carry on his remarkable scoring run? Pompey will need him to against a very good Plymouth side. Away from Fratton Park, Pitman has been integral to Pompey’s success with two vital goals against Rochdale last Saturday and both goals in the key 2-0 win away at Oldham.
Pitman is, without doubt, one of the best players in League One. His twenty-one goals are second in League One. In comparison to Carey, Pitman only has one assist this season. Lowe, Close, Evans and Naismith need to give Pitman quality service and hope the Pompey captain fires the team to victory at Home Park.
Main photo: Joe Pepler