Cook reveals play-off preference

A WINNER-takes-all showdown at Fratton Park.

Friday, 6th May 2016, 8:30 am
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:43 pm
Pompey boss Paul Cook Picture: Joe Pepler

That’s Paul Cook’s preferred scenario for the second leg of the play-offs against Plymouth Argyle.

Tomorrow’s final round of League Two fixtures will decide the venues for each of the mouth-watering end-of-season clashes with the Pilgrims.

Fifth-placed Pompey go into their meeting with Northampton ahead of Derek Adams’ side on goal difference in the table.

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Plymouth are at home to Hartlepool tomorrow.

The team finishing in fifth place will be afforded home advantage for the second leg between the two sides a week on Sunday (6pm).

That means they will play the away leg next Thursday (7.45pm).

Perversely, both Pompey and Plymouth go into this weekend’s games with better league records on the road than at home.

And both teams have picked up victories on their rivals’ turf this season.

That would seem to dilute the benefit of either side playing the other on their own patch.

Cook acknowledged that fact, but feels having the backing of a packed Fratton Park behind his players for the second leg would be best.

He said: ‘When you look at both teams their records away from home are better than at home.

‘That’s over 23 games and the records are very close.

‘So home advantage probably doesn’t mean a great deal.

‘But if you’re asking me whether it’s away at Plymouth or home at Fratton Park, I know where I’d rather be playing in the second leg.

‘Logically, of course, you’d want to play at Fratton Park second.

‘But we’ve played 23 games home and away after Saturday and will have a better away record.

‘So somewhere along the line that doesn’t add up when we have 16,000 people supporting us.

‘We probably have 1,500 going away regularly, when we are given the tickets.

‘I’d always want to have the home leg second, though, because it’s like the old days, if we draw away and then get them back here and win we go on.

‘But what will be will be.’