Pompey eye revenge in modern-day rivalry

Hat-trick hero Danny Hollands celebrates during the match with Plymouth in May, 2014. Picture: Joe Pepler
Hat-trick hero Danny Hollands celebrates during the match with Plymouth in May, 2014. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey's Jamal Lowe. Picture: Joe Pepler/Digital South

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PLYMOUTH provided the backdrop for a Division Three title, they formed opposition on the glorious march to seize the FA Cup.

These days, the distances have shrunk.

Gary Roberts scored in Pompey's win at Plymouth in August 2015. Picture: Joe Pepler

Gary Roberts scored in Pompey's win at Plymouth in August 2015. Picture: Joe Pepler

No longer do Pompey possess the upper hand over the Pilgrims on the thrilling drive for success.

Forget the image of Alan Biley in 1983, dismiss memories of Lassana Diarra in 2008, the Blues currently inhabit a different existence.

No more are Plymouth cast as disposable extras along the route – they have recently established themselves as fierce foes.

A modern-day rivalry has been constructed in League Two, featuring the division’s two biggest clubs.

On Saturday they will once more lock horns on this new scorched earth, Home Park supplying the stage.

Rightly, Derek Adams’ men will be regarded as favourites, home advantage and a present placing of top spot rendering it a tough ask for any visitor.

For Pompey, the clash also represents a reminder of the heartbreak sustained during last season’s play-off semi-final elimination.

The decisive moment arrived deep into stoppage time, condemning Blues followers to perpetual agony.

Yet the clubs have traded blows with pendulum-swing politeness since matched in the bottom division in the 2013-14.

That coming together was the first time in more than 21 years since the duo had occupied the same league, that being the old Division Two in 1991-92.

The first campaign reaped two draws to ensure neither side received an advantage.

Although the 3-3 Fratton Park scoreline on the season’s final day was secured courtesy of Conor Hourihane’s 89th-minute leveller.

It also deprived Charlton loanee Danny Hollands of three points to take home with his matchball in recognition of a hat-trick.

There would be a win apiece during the 2014-15 season, although Plymouth struck first in November 2014.

With the occasion televised on Saturday lunchtime, Andy Awford’s decision to position Jack Whatmough and Nick Awford in midfield backfired.

The visitors found themselves three down after 30 minutes and, although the scoreline remained 3-0 by the final whistle, there was no coming back.

The corresponding fixture on April 2015 resulted in a 2-1 Pompey win, with goals from Jed Wallace and Ryan Taylor.

Yet it would be Awford’s final match in charge for a Fratton Park game, leaving the club by mutual consent following defeat at Morecambe a week later.

With Paul Cook at the helm last term, the Blues won 2-1 at Home Park in his first away fixture, Matt Tubbs and Gary Roberts the scorers.

It appeared a double would be achieved in the Fratton encounter, with the hosts 1-0 up with four minutes remaining – only to lose 2-1 in agonising fashion.

Now the modern enemies are to meet once more, certainly with no love lost between the sitting dressing rooms.

Expect both to maintain the jostling and elbowing come the promotion finale.