Can Portsmouth get over play-off hoodoo at Oxford
Oxford came away from Fratton Park with a draw despite being second best for much of the game. Can Pompey head to Oxford and win the tie? Have a read of our preview here:
Oxford need to find their rhythm
On Friday Oxford were slightly fortunate to get a draw after a really slow start on the south coast.
Pompey went unbeaten at home all season for the first time since 1949 and you can see why. They have strength, pace and determination which combine to produce the kind of performances that could well have taken them into the automatic promotion places.
Oxford, though, have been making steady progress under Karl Robinson’s guidance and his terrible start to the 2018/19 campaign now seems like a distant memory.
Heading back to the Kassam could give Oxford the advantage. In a stadium that is open at one end, atmosphere has never been a big factor in the Yellows taking points at home so a lack of fans is unlikely to affect them in the same way it did for Pompey at Fratton Park.
Rob Dickie, who led the team superbly on Friday, will do so again and if the U’s can find their usual rhythm then they should be able to put Kenny Jackett’s men under more pressure.
Legs will be sore, and it is not yet known if there were any injuries from the first leg, but Oxford will likely line up in a similar fashion, perhaps using 4-3-3 again or 4-2-3-1.
It promises to be a fascinating second leg, and Wycombe look likely to await the winner at Wembley after the Chairboys demolished Fleetwood in their first game…let’s hope this one doesn’t disappoint.
Ronan Curtis Pompey’s biggest threat
A draw is not a bad result but given how they started at Fratton Park on Friday, Pompey will certainly be the more disappointed of the two teams.
Ronan Curtis had a great game, causing Sam Long some real problems down Oxford’s right while forcing Alex Gorrin to take a yellow card in the second half.
His goal should probably have been prevented, but his overall performance deserved it and with the likes of Tom Naylor and John Marquis well-rested, the away team could use their greater depth to their advantage.
Portsmouth have not had much success in the play-offs, never reaching the final in three previous attempts, but this is probably the best chance they will have. Now all they have to do is take it.
Oxford v Portsmouth betting tip
This is going to be a close encounter but Oxford have been strong at the Kassam this season so could just edge it and condemn Pompey to yet more play-off blues. That's why we are backing an Oxford win at odds of 2.62 with Betfair in this one.