Game of the season? Try the biggest game in years...
It's the biggest clash of the season. No doubt.
In fact, take a second to think about it. It’s the biggest game in years.
The match of the decade, no less, when it comes to Pompey’s league fixtures.
Sounds a bit much on first inspection, doesn’t it? It’s not.
Pompey v Plymouth. Saturday, April 16. 2016. It doesn’t come more significant than this one in recent times.
That’s not hyperbole. It’s not bluster or unnecessary hype. Just a logical assessment of the size of the fixture ahead.
And that is going to remain the case for each and every one of the remaining six outings Pompey face.
A live end to a campaign lies ahead with very, very little room for manoeuvre.
Defeat in the battle of the naval ports and five wins from the remaining five games may well not be enough.
Harsh as it would be, 84 points could still end up short of the top three with Accrington’s favourable run-in.
We are now at the stage where each match is becoming a shootout.
Michael Doyle today highlights the magnitude of the visit of Derek Adams’ side in The News and at portsmouth.co.uk.
Give it some consideration. When has there been a bigger one-off encounter?
Last season was a frustrating campaign of drift of little consequence.
Andy Awford arrived to secure five wins and two draws at the end of the 2013-14 campaign.
The Newport County win in his first game was important, but a single match of such significance to the table? Not really.
Pompey celebrated the 10-point deduction which gave them a clean slate as the club became the nation’s biggest community club. It also confirmed inevitable relegation from League One in 2013.
There was a brave fight, but a second administration in two seasons and points deduction saw Michael Appleton’s side fall out of the Championship by an eight-point margin in 2012.
Steve Cotterill’s team had designs on the play-offs the previous year but never forced themselves into the picture.
And that, incredibly, takes us all the way back to 2010’s FA Cup final against Chelsea.
Looking at league fixtures leads you go back further still.
Becoming the first Premier League club to enter administration gave us uncle Avram with his Winston Churchill moments. Pompey were condemned to relegation.
Paul Hart got a squad still lavished with top-flight quality over the line in fits and starts in 2009 and Sol going up lift the FA Cup occupied our minds in 2008.
So we are now back in back in 2007, and Graham Poll denying Harry Redknapp’s side European football for the first time in Pompey’s history.
Arsenal, of course, were the opposition on the final day as Niko Kranjcar’s goal was ruled out in Poll’s last game as a referee.
A look at the fixture lists of recent years really does underline what he have to look forward to.
Gets the adrenalin pumping again, doesn’t it.
Of course, we always knew it would be this way. Plymouth setting the pace for so much of the season, has long had this match ringed as a blue-letter day for promotion hopes.
The Pilgrims’ stuttering form means they go into the game with similar weight afforded to the occasion.
There’s going to be tension. There’s going to be pressure. It’s going to be a time for cool heads.
And how we celebrate having that drama to play out.