Pompey defender relishing Plymouth ‘rivalry’

Gareth Evans injured at Plymouth last May. Picture: Joe Pepler
Gareth Evans injured at Plymouth last May. Picture: Joe Pepler
Conor Chaplin. Picture: Joe Pepler

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The pain has gone away – yet it remains.

For Gareth Evans, the injury has healed but there will be no forgiving or forgetting.

There is a rivalry there – they don’t like us and we don’t like them

Gareth Evans

In May’s play-off second leg at Plymouth, an awful Carl McHugh challenge ended the versatile performer’s participation in the first half.

Evans spent the next three months on the sidelines with medial collateral damage in his left knee and torn medial ligaments in his left ankle.

Meanwhile, in his absence from the field of battle, his team-mates were eliminated by a last-gasp goal.

Thankfully there was no permanent damage, the 28-year-old returning as a regular in September and not missing a League Two fixture since.

Tomorrow sees Plymouth once more lock horns with Paul Cook’s side, albeit minus McHugh, who has since moved to Motherwell.

Regardless, Evans bears the scars – and grudges.

He said: ‘It would be painful if Plymouth won promotion in front of us at Fratton Park but we can’t really think too much about it.

‘They have had a good season and you have to take your hat off, they have done well this season. If they get promotion here then so be it.

‘I can’t stand them and I don’t like the manager, if I am honest.

‘But they have the points on the board to get promotion and that’s the end of it, no complaints from me.

‘It doesn’t mean we aren’t going to get promotion, it just means they are going to get it before us.

‘Maybe I don’t like them because we were knocked out in the semi-finals last season and it was tough to swallow, I don’t know.

‘There is a rivalry there – they don’t like us and we don’t like them.

‘But I’m looking forward to it, I’m sure it will be a good game of football. Hopefully we’ll win.’

A Fratton Park victory for Derek Adams’ men could clinch promotion for the second-placed side, albeit dependant on Stevenage and Luton not winning.

Meanwhile, a seventh win in eight fixtures for Pompey would put them one point behind the Pilgrims with four matches remaining. Encounters with Plymouth during Cook’s reign have always been tight affairs, with the sides sharing a 2-2 draw at Home Park in October.

And Evans is looking for another positive result to edge closer to promotion.

He added: ‘We are in touching distance but you have to put it out of your mind.

‘The success and enjoyment of promotion is going to be fantastic at a club like this but until we actually get it I can’t really think about it too much.

‘It’s difficult to put out of your mind and in some ways you just want it out of the way. It’s going on and on and on and you want to fast forward a few weeks to when hopefully it’s done.

‘It is enjoyable, the lads are buzzing and hopefully it can be resolved in the next few games.

‘Last weekend we went another two points clear – hopefully we will win the next few and that will be that.’