Frantic finish to play-off push

By Jon Hooper

The League One Top Six standings are going down to the wire, with a three-horse race involving Pompey, Oxford and Charlton unfolding.

Danny Cowley’s Portsmouth face Accrington Stanley for the second time in the space of 10 days, following their drama 3-3 draw at the Wham Stadium.

Oxford United host Burton Albion at the Kassam Stadium, with the Brewers suffering a heavy 5-1 defeat back in January to their hosts.

Charlton Athletic welcome Champions-elect Hull City to the Valley, with the Tigers dispatching the-then 10 men of the Addicks 2-0 in the reverse fixture.

All three sides will do everything they can to finish in the final Play Off spot come 14:00 tomorrow afternoon.

Permutations

The permutations of a Portsmouth win elimates any chance of either the U’s or the Addicks finishing within the Top Six, as Danny Cowley’s men have a point on both, with 72 points, compared to duo’s 71.

If all three sides lose, then Portsmouth remain in 6th position.

If Portsmouth fail to win and either of Oxford or Charlton achieve maximum points, then it will go down to goal difference, with Karl Robinson’s men currently having a four-goal on Nigel Adkins and his Charlton.

Oxford United are the likely occupant of 6th place, should Pompey fail to win and Charlton can beat Hull.

However, if both Oxford and Portsmouth fail to win and Charlton come out victorious over the Tigers, then would finish 6th place.

Portsmouth vs Accrington

A Top Six finish seemed a distant dream for Portsmouth following a two-goal deficit to Accrington 10 days ago, but a draw against Stanley, followed by a 3-1 victory at AFC Wimbledon, has seen their prospects increase significantly.

In Pompey’s last match, they completed a 3-1 comeback victory at AFC Wimbledon and are currently 6th in the League One Play Offs.

There have only ever been 13 contests being the two sides, with Portsmouth narrowly edging Stanley in previous encounters, with 4 wins to the hosts, 3 wins to the visitors and the remaining 6 ending level.

Cowley’s men know that they control their promotion destiny and ultimately, I believe this factor, as well as Pompey’s new found belief will see them grind out a 2-1 win.

Oxford vs Burton

Since suffering a 2-1 defeat at home to now relegated Swindon, The U’s have won 15, drawn 6 and lost 8 and subsequently rose from 19th to 7th in this period.

Last time out, Oxford won a topsy-tervy encounter against Shrewsbury Town 3-2 and gave themselves a fighting chance of a Top Six finish.

In the 16 matches between the U’s and the Brewers, Oxford have won just 4, drawn 6, but worryingly for the hosts, lost 6.

Karl Robinson’s men know that they need to at likely win and hope Portsmouth lose to have any chance of finishing the campaign in the Top Six, which is why I am backing a 2-1 win to the hosts.

Charlton vs Hull

Charlton, along with Portsmouth, both had vacancies to fill in the dugout, with Nigel Adkins coming in to pick up the mantle, following Lee Bowyer’s appointment at Birmingham City.

During Adkin’s tenure, he has overseen four wins, four draws and just a single loss, to now-promoted, Peterborough United.

There have been 42 total fixtures between the Addicks and the Tigers, with the hosts winning 19, drawing 11 and the visitors winning 12.

Grant McCann’s men are already Champions of League One and have nothing other than pride to play for, whereas their hosts must win to have their best chance of joining Hull in the Championship next season, which is why I am calling a 2-0 home win.

Photo: Portsmouth FC

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