Why Fratton Park is key to Pompey promotion

Pompey will be hoping for many celebratory moments at Fratton Park between now and the end of the season
Pompey will be hoping for many celebratory moments at Fratton Park between now and the end of the season
Pompey's Gareth Evans. Picture: Joe Pepler

Evans: Player talk has lifted Pompey form

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Fratton Park holds the key to Pompey’s automatic promotion hopes.

Now Paul Cook must utilise that home advantage to propel his team into League Two’s top three.

The Blues host struggling Leyton Orient on Saturday, seeking a positive response to the defeat at Doncaster Rovers.

It is one of 12 remaining Fratton Park matches for Pompey as they enter the second half of the campaign four points adrift of the automatic promotion places.

In contrast, there are nine away fixtures, putting the emphasis for success very much on home turf.

No other League Two team has more home matches left than Pompey – theoretically representing a massive benefit.

However, Blues fans are well aware of the Fratton Park frustrations which continue to hamper aspirations of ending a four-year stay in the Football League’s bottom division.

Home form has consistently been a source of concern under Cook, threatening to unravel 18 months of largely excellent away results.

Last term at PO4, the Blues collected 37 points and six defeats in League Two, compared to 41 points and four losses on their travels.

Those away results underpinned the team’s finish of sixth place and subsequent qualification for the play-offs.

During the current campaign, results on the road surpass home outcomes by two points, albeit having played three games more.

Yet, from here on in, it will be Fratton Park which will largely dictate the division the Blues play their football in during the 2017-18 season.

Certainly, having 12 home matches remaining is an advantage on the three clubs sitting above Pompey in the automatic promotion spots.

Doncaster and Plymouth have played on home soil on two more occasions than Cook’s side, ensuring the bulk of their remaining matches are away.

League leaders Donny are undefeated at the Keepmoat Stadium, winning 10 and drawing three of 13 fixtures staged there so far to give them 33 points.

The Pilgrims have reaped 24 points at Home Park – and the same amount on their travels – to stand six points ahead of the Blues.

Carlisle sit in third spot, a position driven by 27 Brunton Park points.

However, on January 2 they suffered a maiden league home defeat in their 12th match.

Incidentally, Keith Curle’s side have played one more fixture at home than Pompey.

Curiously, Mansfield have featured 14 times at home – more than any other League Two team.

Still, armed with three more home games than away, the Blues have the opportunity to stage a promotion onslaught during the second half of the campaign.

Ordinarily, that is a statistic to relish for any self-respecting promotion-hunting team. Similarly, strugglers would welcome such a fixture list.

As it stands, Pompey have collected 20 points at Fratton Park this season.

With another 36 on offer from home matches, should Fortress Fratton return it is likely to seal promotion.