The Saturday Preview
A DOCKYARD Derby at Home Park is always sure to raise excitement levels in the South-West. You would need to go back almost three years to have seen Argyle beat Pompey and that was in the Play-Off Semi-Final, with a Peter Hartley winner in injury time at Home Park.
This time around, the recent form book paints a contrasting picture. Despite topping the table for most away points gained (30), Portsmouth have lost three of their last four away fixtures. Luton, (3-2) Oxford (2-1) and Gillingham (2-0) have all profited from their dip in form.
Travel 170 miles South-West and the story could not be more different. A 1-0 defeat to Wycombe has been the only blip in an otherwise perfect start to the year, with Argyle recording five wins out of a possible six and sitting third in the Sky Bet League One form table.
Pompey boss Kenny Jackett has had a management career stretching back over 20 years. Taking charge of Watford before moving on to Swansea, Millwall and then Wolves, where he won Sky Bet League One in 2014. In 2016, he joined Championship club Rotherham but was only in the hot-seat for five games (39 days)
There is certainly no shortage of goals in this side. While captain Brett Pitman and Ollie Hawkins each have five, it is Irish winger Ronan Curtis who leads the way with 10. The midfielder from Donegal, signed from Derry City last summer. The year previous he was set to sign for the surprise Swedish outfit Ostersunds but negotiations between the two parties broke down.
Jackett has also added significant firepower up front in the transfer window, with the additions of James Vaughan and Omar Bogle, from Wigan and Cardiff City respectively.
Thanks to our recent good form, we have picked up 21 points on our own patch this season, seven points less than Portsmouth, but more positive news for the Green Army is that in each of Pompey’s last 10 matches in the league, they have conceded at least once.
Derek Adams’ Argyle are particularly dangerous at home, where we are yet to be beaten this year, scoring seven times and conceding twice. This represents quite the turnaround for a defence that chopped and changed regularly due to injuries in the early part of the season.
Now a settled side, Argyle have conceded 10 goals fewer than Rochdale, who have conceded the most in the division - 62. At the other end, we are among a clutch of teams who have scored 39 times, Pompey are 11 goals better off.
As Derek takes charge of the Pilgrims for the 200th time, only the fifth man in our history to do so, following the likes of Robert Jack, Jimmy Rae, Jack Rowley and Tony Waiters, he will also come up against Portsmouth for the 10th time, in the 105th Dockyard derby.
Two managerial milestones in one day but will it end with three points?