DEREK Adams’ short assessment of what he feels about Argyle v Portsmouth matches belied his excitement for the weekend: “This is a proper football match.”
The Argyle boss is looking forward to reigniting the rivalry between Pompey and the Pilgrims when we travel to Fratton Park on Saturday.
Over the last few seasons Argyle and Portsmouth have played some fiercely competitive fixtures with plenty riding on the result.
Argyle will be in confident mood when they play Portsmouth in Sky Bet League One on Saturday after Tuesday’s 2-0 victory over Northampton.
Derek has pointed out that this Saturday’s match at Fratton Park is one of the matches he looks forward too the most in the season due to the nature of the two clubs.
“This is a proper football match,” he said.
“It’s a tremendous stadium and atmosphere to go to. We enjoy playing there because of the great atmosphere the stadium brings and we always take a good following with us. It does generate one of the best football matches I have been involved in since I’ve come here.
“They are better than anything else I’ve had at this football club, except the Liverpool game. The two teams want to go and play football and it’s usually a good spectacle.
“Even going on the bus we get to the pub on the right hand side as we get to the stadium and it’s rammed full of Argyle fans. It shows what it means to them, and when you get into the stadium it’s very good as well. This is one of the best matches I have been involved in my career.”
The historical rivalry between the two teams was built on the history of each being a dockyard city, but a fresh impetus was added as the sides pushed for promotion at the same time, and found that their managers – Adams and Portsmouth’s Paul Cook – did not totally see eye-to-eye.
Cook is now manager of Wigan, to whom Argyle lost 1-0 earlier in the season, with Kenny Jackett now in the Fratton Park hot-seat.
“It will be a bit quieter,” said Derek, about the lack of Cook. “We have already met up at the Wigan game. It will be different with Kenny instead of Paul on the side-lines.
“He signed a two-year extension to his deal so the board of directors there must be happy with how things have gone since he’s been at the football club.”
Indeed, Portsmouth are 11th in Sky Bet League One, with three defeats and two wins in the last five games. Fratton Park, though, is a place Derek is yet to lose at.
Portsmouth have sold out the home end of the ground, and there is sure to be a sizable Green Army following, too. The huge crowd will not overawe the Pilgrims, though; Derek knows his team can perform on the big occasions.
“This season we have gone to the likes of Bradford with 20,000 and dealt well with that.
“The players are beginning to show their confidence in themselves; they know the confidence I have in them. I’ve said all along we have a good squad; we have competed well with all teams in this division and haven’t got the results we have deserved.”