'We still feel the pain'... Pompey boss ahead of big Blues clash

Macauley Bonne celebrates his goal against Portsmouth in the first half

Macauley Bonne celebrates his goal against Portsmouth in the first half - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich Town entertain Portsmouth this afternoon in what is a clash of two League One play-off hopefuls. MIKE BACON takes a look at Pompey.

The story so far

Portsmouth won three of their opening four fixtures in League One this season to set the early pace among the top sides in the table.

However, no win in six after that, including a damaging 1-2 defeat at home to Cambridge United, had Danny Cowley's team slipping down the table.

At the start of October and rather out of the blue, Pompey hammered high-flying Sunderland 4-0 at Fratton Park, before conceding four goals to Rotherham (1-4 away) and Ipswich (0-4 at home) in consecutive matches, as their slump continued.

No win in six at the start of 2022 saw Pompey in the lower echelons of League One, and a restless fanbase. After a 2-3 defeat to Oxford United, the first game after the transfer window closed on February 5, Pompey were 13th and 14 points off the play-off places.

Five signings were made in that window, but even more senior players left, including John Marquis, Ellis Harrison and Lee Brown.

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Since then, Portsmouth have picked up an almost perfect return of points with 19 from a possible 21, including a fine 3-2 return win over Oxford two weeks ago, taking them to five points from the top six.

They are on a roll and now sit 10th, two points and one place below Town, but with two games in hand on Ipswich. They are top of the League One last six game form guide, Town are fifth.

Portsmouth Manager, Danny Cowley, seen prior to the Sky Bet League One match at the Stadium of Light

Pompey boss Danny Cowley, hasn't forgotten the 0-4 defeat earlier in the season - Credit: PA

Revenge in the air

One of Paul Cook's best, if not the best, result of his tenure with Town was the 0-4 victory at Portsmouth back in October.

That night, three goals in a 17-minute spell either side of half-time from Macauley Bonne, Sone Aluko and Connor Chaplin, plus a late Wes Burns effort secured Town a big victory and heaped pressure on Pompey boss Danny Cowley at the time.

It's a night he hasn't forgotten and he's looking forward to putting things right.

“We still feel the pain of that October night at Fratton Park, we’ve kept that quite close," Cowley said this week.

"We’re looking forward to maybe putting some of the wrongs of that evening right on Saturday. We won’t fear Saturday. You can’t fear something you have created and the group, with 19 out of 21 points, have created. The magnitude of this game has grown in terms of the run that we’ve been on.

"We’re going to bring the best of ourselves on Saturday."

Portsmouth's Marcus Harness during the Sky Bet League One match at the Montgomery Waters Meadow, Shr

Portsmouth's top scorer, Marcus Harness, out suspended today. - Credit: PA

Top scorer sees red and is out

Portsmouth's top scorer this season, Marcus Harness, will be missing this afternoon.

The 26-year-old has been in good form this campaign, but a moment of recklessness against Accrington two weeks ago saw him red-carded after 21 minutes. He is in the middle of a three-game ban.

The red card was the first for Harness in his career. The former Burton forward produced a rash challenge from behind on defender Ross Sykes in the first half, with still 69 minutes left on the clock.

Pompey still went on to hammer Accrington 4-0.

The previous

Town's 0-4 victory over Portsmouth in October was the first time they had beaten Pompey in seven attempts going back to 2012.

Overall, however, Ipswich have had the upper hand in clashes with the south coast side. Ipswich have won 20 (in all competitions), Portsmouth have won 16. There have been 12 draws.

The biggest win for either side is when Town beat Pompey 7-0 in a Division Two clash, back in 1964.

What the bookies say

Town start favourites with all the bookies and why not? They are on a good run of form and they are at home. Then again so are Pompey in good form. You can get very similar odds for either a Portsmouth win or a draw.

TOWN WIN: 6/5: PORTSMOUTH WIN: 23/10: THE DRAW: 23/10

A blue plaque on the wall of the Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum in Portsmouth on the 200th annive

A blue plaque on the wall of the Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum in Portsmouth. - Credit: PA

Did you know?

Portsmouth was the birthplace of Charles Dickens, one of the UK’s most famous writers and author of Oliver Twist, Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol. The city was later included in his novel Nicholas Nickelby.