The first play-off game of the 2015/16 season sees two of the ‘big guns’ in League Two face off. Both of the clubs would’ve fancied their automatic promotion hopes in August but instead have been thrown into the lottery of the play-offs.
Portsmouth will be somewhat disappointed only finishing 6th this season, in a league they were widely expected to walk, after the shrewd addition of former Chesterfield boss Paul Cook along with their huge fan base and average attendances being almost double of anyone else in the division. A relatively strong end to the season means Portsmouth will have a lot of momentum going into the two games despite losing to champions Northampton on the final day of the season.
Plymouth find themselves in the play-offs for the second season in a row and will be determined not to miss out on promotion again after losing to Wycombe in the semi final stage last year. The Pilgrims found themselves in a very good position going into the new year and looked like certainties to go up automatically, but an inconsistent 2016 has seen Derek Adams’ men drop into the play-offs. They will however go into the game at Fratton Park, full of confidence after making 7 changes at the weekend in a 5-0 win over Hartlepool.
Both teams will fancy their chances over the two legs and I think this will be a very close and tight affair. The two teams met just under a month ago at Fratton Park and Plymouth triumphed 2-1 after two very late goals but I don’t see this being the case tonight. Portsmouth will be missing two important players in defenders Adam Webster and Kieron Freeman but I think the return of Kyle Bennett and a fit Marc McNulty will see Portsmouth shade tonight’s fixture. However after resting 7 of their first team on Saturday in a 5-0 smashing of Hartlepool, some will argue that Plymouth may come into the game as the fresher and perhaps more confident team. The return of Carl McHugh and the possible return of Reuben Reid would be a huge boost going into this game for Argyle.
I just feel like the occasion will favour Portsmouth and in front of a packed Fratton Park they will be able to see out a result. I am going to put my neck on the line and say Portsmouth will shade tonight’s fixture 2-1 but with the way both teams have been this season this fixture really could go either way. Both clubs can really not afford to not go up this season so it will definitely be a cagey affair which should set up a very interesting game on Sunday at Home Park.
Do you agree with my prediction? Let us know in the comments below!