Facing Fratton

ANY manager who has yet to see his side register a league victory, and who has, with his team, already clocked up plenty of miles this week, would be forgiven for viewing another trip, to unbeaten Portsmouth, with trepidation.

However, as the Green Army would joyfully testify, Derek Adams is not any manager, and he is properly looking forward to Saturday’s 104th Dockyard Derby. 

“It’s one of the best games that you can be involved in,” he said. “It’s a game that we enjoy playing in.

“There is a terrific atmosphere at Fratton Park. It’s always electric. The players enjoy it and we always have a very good backing, going there. A number of them will have played there before, and that’s important. 

“It’s always nice to play at a full venue and that’s what it will be on Saturday.” 

In the long history of matches between the two naval ports, there is little to separate Guzz and Pompey: Argyle have won 40 of the 103 previous meetings – Portsmouth 42 – and their 139 goals are one fewer than their hosts on Saturday’s 140. 

That paper-thin past has also been seen in recent seasons, stoking the ancient rivalry further. However, this season, third-placed Portsmouth have got off to a flyer in Sky Bet League One and, after just five games, are 11 points ahead of the Pilgrims. 

Derek said: “We’re going away from home; Portsmouth are at the top of the table; they obviously deserve to be favourites for the game.” 

Argyle’s eighth game of the season will see them away from their Home Park comforts for the fifth time, coming three days after they lost 3-2 at Millwall in the second round of the Carabao Cup. 

“We got back at 4 o’clock on Thursday morning,” said Derek. “We’re used to it now; we’ve got long distances to travel and a quick turnaround because the game was on the Wednesday, but we’ll be ready for Portsmouth. 

“It’s an advantage [for Portsmouth], there’s no doubt about it. They have had a free week to prepare; we’ve had to travel to Millwall and come home, then travel to Portsmouth. It is an advantage, but we’ll just have to get on with it.” 

Portsmouth’s four league wins this season include a 4-1 victory over Oxford United in their previous game at Fratton Park, where they also beat Luton Town 1-0 on the opening day of the campaign. 

Since drawing 0-0 with Argyle at the Theatre of Greens in April, Portsmouth have, like their visitors, revised their squad, and only this week brought in Aston Villa winger Andre Green on loan. 

Derek said: “They have changed their team about a bit, but they play in a similar manner to last season.

“They have moved into the transfer-market, they have bought a few players over the summer; they have had [Ollie] Hawkins or [Brett] Pittman up front; they have bought [Ronan] Curtis from Ireland, as well.”

The Pompey side in last season’s Home Park encounter included midfielder Stuart O’Keefe, who made a pleasing Argyle debut in Wednesday’s cup-tie. 

“He did well,” said Derek. “It’s difficult for him because he’d just come in to a new group of players but, as the game went on, he looked stronger and stronger and was able to get an understanding with his fellow midfielders.” 

The Millwall game saw Derek watch from the stands as part of his punishment meted out by the FA following the Pilgrims’ home match against Southend United. 

“I was in full contact throughout the game with the dug-out; Kevin Nancekivell and I were wired up for the full 90 minutes. We have radio the whole game. 

“It doesn’t affect my job.”