THE LEAGUE promotion race is still wide open.
And any of the sides in and around the play-offs can still make a charge into the automatic promotion places.
That’s the view of Pompey assistant manager, Leam Richardson, as he assesses the battle to go up.
The Blues go into tomorrow’s clash with Bristol Rovers seven points off Oxford in the third automatic promotion spot, with 18 games to go.
Richardson noted how quickly things can evolve with just eight points covering the places from the U’s down to Cambridge in 10th.
He said: Before we kicked a ball promotion was open to a number of teams.
‘It hasn’t changed all year.
‘It’s a good, competitive league this year.
‘When you look at the likes of Luton, Orient, Cambridge and Bristol Rovers you see that.
‘Then there’s ourselves, Oxford, Luton and Plymouth.
‘It’s open for everybody – and still is.
‘From our view, within four days things can change as the Morecambe and Leyton Orient result showed.
‘If they were positive results we’d have been a point behind Oxford in four days.
‘You’ve got to look at the fact that, say, from the Yeovil to Barnet games it could have the opposite effect.
‘Hopefully we can pull it back to within a point of the top three.
‘We’ll look at ourselves, put pressure on ourselves and get the best results we can.’
Despite it being congested at the top of the table, Northampton have surprised many by stretching away.
The Cobblers have pulled away from second-placed Plymouth with a five-point gap and a game in hand.
Richardson said: ‘You can only concentrate on yourselves.
‘Fair play to Northampton. They have momentum and have rode the crest of a wave.
‘You see that happen in most leagues. Leicester are doing the same in the Premier League.’
Pompey now look to close the gap on their rivals tomorrow against Bristol Rovers – who have faces familiar to Richardson.
He said: ‘They are going well. I’ve known Darrell (Clarke) for a few years and they are going well.
‘I know a lot of their players and it’s set for a good energetic game.
‘They are a good club, well supported with a good manager and players.
‘They recruit well. It’s going to make for a good game.’
by JORDAN CROSS