Bristol Rovers boss maintains Pompey promotion belief

Michael Doyle battles for the ball against Bristol Rovers. Picture: Joe Pepler

Michael Doyle battles for the ball against Bristol Rovers. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Darrell Clarke has reiterated his belief that any team who finishes above Pompey this season will be promoted.

And Bristol Rovers’ manager has backed Paul Cook’s side to achieve automatic promotion themselves after seeing the Blues complete a league double over his own side.

There is no doubt in my mind they will finish in the automatic promotion places but obviously they have to go out and prove that

Bristol Rovers manager Darrell Clarke

After the reverse fixture back in September, which Pompey won 2-1 at the Memorial Ground, Clarke stated his opinion that teams who finish above the Blues will be plying their trade in League One next term.

And after seeing his side outplayed at Fratton Park on Saturday in a 3-1 loss, the visiting manager had not changed his thoughts at all.

He said: ‘I still think that, definitely.

‘And as the season comes into the final third they have got a talented group of players who will kick on.

‘There is no doubt in my mind they will finish in the automatic promotion places but obviously they have to go out and prove that.

‘But I am more concerned about my own team than Portsmouth, with respect.’

With Pompey entering Saturday’s clash on the back of a three-game winless run in the league, Clarke suggested his team had run into the Blues at a bad time.

Indeed the hosts played like a team with a point to prove, with Rovers well beaten.

‘They will be pleased with the way they responded to a couple of negative results,’ said Clarke.

‘It was always on the cards – they have a great, talented squad of players and a very good management team.

‘For me it was probably the wrong time to play them because they obviously played well and my goalkeeper kept the score down.

‘From our point of view, I am disappointed about our own display but full credit to Portsmouth they thoroughly deserved their win.

‘We try to play football and we try to get on the front foot.

‘But we have to be a lot better on the ball than we were on Saturday.’

– JEFF MARSHMAN

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