Pompey heading for another Checkatrade Trophy attendance low

Fans were sparse for the last Checkatrade Trophy fixture at Fratton Park. Picture: Joe Pepler
Fans were sparse for the last Checkatrade Trophy fixture at Fratton Park. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Pompey’s potentially final Checkatrade Trophy match of the season has sold 393 tickets in advance.

While the supporters’ club of opponents Bristol Rovers have scrapped coach service to Fratton Park because of a lack of interest.

In the process, it becomes the first such occasion for the club since January 1978.

The Blues attracted their lowest crowd in post-war history when Reading under-23s visited last month.

That attendance of 1,355 is expected to be exceeded for Rovers’ visit on Tuesday in the last match of Southern Group A.

Considering the resistance to under-23 sides entering the competition, the presence of a genuine League One first team is unlikely to warrant as much antipathy.

However, the Fratton faithful have so far snapped up only 393 seats ahead of the visit of Darrell Clarke’s side.

That is in comparison to the 5,800 tickets sold for Saturday’s FA Cup first round clash with Wycombe.

Pompey can still qualify from the group stages of the Checkatrade Trophy, yet it appears a tricky ask.

Paul Cook’s men are presently bottom of the group with one point – four points adrift of the top-two positions which go through.

They will need to defeat Rovers and hope Yeovil suffer a loss against group leaders Reading under-23s.

At that point, goal difference would then also come into play to separate the teams.

Despite everything resting on the final round of fixtures, the match is still not capturing the interest of both sets of supporters.

Rovers’ Supporters’ Club cancelled their travel service after fewer than the 20 people required to make it viable showed interest.

Only eight fans wanted to use the coach, while more than half of the club’s 100-seat allocation remain.

That prompted the supporters’ club to cancel a coach service for the first time since an FA Cup tie away against Sunderland at Roker Park on a Monday night in January 1978. Rovers, who are riding high in fifth spot in League One following last season’s promotion, have an average attendance of 9,198 at the Memorial Stadium this season.

However, in home Checkatrade Trophy fixtures they have attracted crowds of 1,418 against Reading under-23s and last month saw 2,117 attend against Yeovil.

Last weekend’s 2-1 Memorial Stadium victory over Fleetwood saw a crowd of 10,088.

For Pompey supporters, tickets will continue to be sold until kick-off on Tuesday night, an option which helped boost the attendance against Reading under-23s.

Queues down Frogmore Road developed 45 minutes before kick-off and remained steady as the club’s ticket office experienced last-minute trade.

Irrespective of the late surge, it was Fratton’s lowest attendance since the war.

It remains to be seen if Bristol Rovers’ visit can now attract more.

– NEIL ALLEN