Holmes: Get set for a scrap

Pompey midfielder Ricky Holmes is up for the battle against Stevenage in the FA Cup Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey midfielder Ricky Holmes is up for the battle against Stevenage in the FA Cup Picture: Joe Pepler
Conor Chaplin could start againsyt Plymouth. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey v Plymouth: pre-match talking points

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RICKY Holmes geared up for a war of attrition at Stevenage and warned: It’s going to be a dogfight.

And the in-form attacker underlined Pompey go to the Lamex Stadium for their FA Cup first-round tie tomorrow firmly as underdogs.

Guy Whittingham’s side face a Borough team sitting a single point off the League One drop zone.

Manager Graham Westley is now in the midst of his third spell at the club, after returning following his sacking at Preston in February.

Westley, fairly or not, has carried a reputation for favouring a long-ball approach to the game throughout his career.

He has made no secret of the fact he has no problem factoring in a physical edge to his team’s play.

Holmes knows that is something Pompey will have to come to terms with as their attention turns to the famous, old Cup competition.

The 26-year-old knows his team travel to Hertfordshire in confident mood.

Six unbeaten games have injected impetus into their season, as they sit four points off the play-offs after last weekend’s win over Exeter.

Pompey now take a break from the cut and thrust of League Two action.

That takes the pressure off to an extent, but Holmes’ believes maintaining momentum tomorrow is a big factor.

And his team are going to have to be prepared to grit it out to do that.

Holmes said: ‘We’ve got to go there and win.

‘When you are on a run you don’t want to lose, because you have to pick yourself up. We should go there with a full-strength side and give it a go.

‘I know the Stevenage of old and it was a dogfight.

‘They will be fit, at you and in your face.

‘That’s how they grind out results.

‘So I think we should go there, prepare for a battle and get a result.

‘We need to compete and play our football around them.’

Tomorrow’s clash will mark just the fourth time Pompey have met Stevenage.

The first arrived as the Blues scraped a 2-1 Carling Cup win under Steve Cotterill in 2010.

Last season saw Stevenage get a home success by the same margin, before a 0-0 draw was played out at Fratton Park shortly after Westley’s return.

Those third-tier fixtures were the first time the sides had met in the league.

Now Pompey are looking up the league pyramid at their opponents going into their latest meeting.

That underlines how the club’s fortunes have changed in recent years.

Holmes pointed out the fact Stevenage will be seen as favourites to progress to the second round shows the realities of where Pompey currently stand.

He said: ‘It’s a scalp for us.

‘We need to prove to everyone around us and our fans that we can cope.

‘We need to show why we are on a good run and that we can beat teams in the league above us.

‘It doesn’t matter the size of the club or the number of fans they’ve got.

‘They are in the league above us so it’s a scalp, and that’s the end of the story.

‘So we have to go there and treat they game as a tough one for us. It will be.’