Meet Town's opposition: Pompey are a goal-scoring machine
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Football writer Carl Marston casts his eye over free-scoring fourth-placed Portsmouth, who are this weekend's visitors to Portman Road...
A home clash with Portsmouth was always going to be one of the most mouth-watering fixtures of the season, and this weekend's contest has added spice.
A top-four clash at Portman Road, in front of 2,000 fans, has a real promotion showdown flavour to it.
Sure, Town have stumbled of late, before returning to winning ways at Plymouth Argyle last Saturday, but they are still one place and two points better off than Pompey.
No other club in League One has scored more league goals than prolific Portsmouth, and no other striker has bagged more goals than John Marquis.
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Kenny Jacketts's men have banged home 28 goals in 16 league outings, one more than leaders Hull City, and three more than both Doncaster Rovers and Fleetwood Town.
Marquis, in a rich vein of form, has been leading the way with 10 goals in all competitions, nine of these in the league, to top the charts ahead of Joe Pigott (AFC Wimbledon), Callum Camps (Fleetwood) and Jonson Clarke-Harris (Peterborough), who have all netted eight league goals.
Ex-Millwall front-runner Marquis, 28, made a big name for himself at Doncaster Rovers over three years, scoring 61 league goals in 134 outings and helping Rovers to clinch promotion to the Championship.
But it is not just Marquis who has been proving lethal in front of goal. Pompey have several other reliable goal-scoring outlets.
In fact, three have all netted six goals, in ex-Burton Albion winger Marcus Harness, Republic of Ireland front-runner Ronan Curtis and experienced centre-half Tom Naylor.
IMPRESSIVE ON THE ROAD
Portsmouth have lost just four of their first 16 league games, and only one of these reverses has come on the road, on their last time out as an away side in the league at Blackpool (1-0 at the start of this month).
Since then, they have beaten fellow high-fliers Peterborough 2-0 at home in the league, and won 3-0 at Cheltenham Town in the Papa John's Trophy in midweek.
Pompey's only three other league defeats have all been suffered at Fratton Park, at the hands of Wigan, Charlton and Doncaster.
Even making 11 changes could not put a stop to Portsmouth's outstanding record in the EFL Trophy (newly named Papa John's Trophy).
The Hampshire side eased into the third round of the competition, with a 3-0 win at Whaddon Road on Tuesday night.
It is a competition that Pompey, and manager Jackett, have come to love.
In fact, they are still the current holders, after beating Sunderland on penalties in a sold-out Wembley final in 2019.
Furthermore, they are in the 2020 final, which was postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic and has yet to be rearranged. They will meet Salford City in that final.
LAST LEAGUE OUTING
Fratton Park welcomed back supporters last weekend, with 2,000 of them treated to a 2-0 home win over Peterborough, highlighted by a spectacular second goal.
Tom Naylor, Pompey's skipper, netted with a wonder long-range strike on 75 minutes to add to defender Jack Whatmough's 62st minute headed goal from a free-kick.
TIME FOR REVENGE
Town were knocked out of the FA Cup at the first round hurdle, by visiting Portsmouth in early November.
It was a topsy-turvy afternoon, eventually ended by Sean Raggett's extra-time close-range winner in a 3-2 away success. There was a suspicion of offside surrounding that 111th minute goal.
Early goals by Curtis and Naylor had put Pompey 2-0 up inside 13 minutes, only for Town to force extra-time with goals from Jon Nolan and James Norwood.
Portsmouth went on to beat Norfolk non-league side King's Lynn 6-1 in round two, and will take on Bristol City at Ashton Gate in the first round next month.
With the exception of the 2011-12 season, Town have had a miserable head-to-head record against Portsmouth over the last couple of decades.
Town have only won two of the last 10 fixtures between the two clubs, both these victories secured in 2011-12 with 1-0 successes at Portman Road (Keith Andrews' second-half winner) and at Fratton Park (Michael Chopra's first half opener).
Otherwise, it has been Pompey mostly in the driving seat, winning the last three on the bounce including the 3-2 win in the FA Cup in November.