Oh no! The crystal ball foretells Pompey promotion again!

There's nothing like predicting Pompey promotion to stir up a reaction.

Wednesday, 1st March 2017, 5:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:19 pm
Conor Chaplin and Pompey have a favourable run-in, while Sonny Bradley, right, and his Plymotuh team-mates face a nightmare March. Picture: Joe Pepler

Well, here goes: Pompey ARE going to get promoted.

Admittedly, the crystal-ball record ain’t great but, as we stand surveying the League Two landscape with 13 games remaining, the route is looking clear for Paul Cook’s men.

Their rivals, however, are entering treacherous terrain loaded with chasms in which to fall.

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‘It’s all in our favour,’ Paul Cook has admitted now on more than a couple of occasions.

And it certainly is that. There are really no excuses not to deliver from here on in. A look down Pompey’s run-in shows a finale ticking all the boxes you could ask for.

With a game in hand over all but two of the top 10 and a March schedule with travelling distances at a minimum, the benefits are apparent.

Only Plymouth are now left to face of the teams in the top six.

Of the rest, a gaggle of outfits on the fringes of the play-offs and sides currently occupying the bottom eight make up the opposition.

The hope will be many of them have little to play for by the time they face Cook’s men.

April 15 will be marked on the fixture list as a potentially defining day as the Blues’ pals from Devon visit.

The optimists envisage that being a chance to overhaul Argyle.

And a look at the next four weeks on their schedule provides encouragement they won’t be pulling clear anytime soon.

Plymouth are winless in four as they enter a nightmare month.

Carlisle and Blackpool provide two challenges in four days at Home Park for Derek Adams’ side.

They are the pre-cursor to trips to Mansfield and Wycombe.

Morecambe, who are one defeat in 11, provide the penultimate opposition for the month before a trip to league leaders Doncaster.

You could scarcely handpick a more testing schedule.

Carlisle, who looked shell-shocked after Saturday’s second-half battering from Pompey, have Luton and Mansfield on the horizon as they wobble.

It’s Luton, despite their EFL Trophy distraction, who appear to be shaping up most threateningly of the chasing pack.

At this time last year, Bristol Rovers were embarking on a run of 11 wins and two draws from 14 fixtures.

Northampton, of course, had left everyone behind in their slipstream of 16 victories and eight draws over the second half of the campaign, and AFC Wimbledon were about grab seven successes from 10 to sneak into the play-offs. No-one is putting the promotion race to bed this time, though.

Leaders Doncaster had lost four of five before beating Cambridge on Tuesday night.

So, even after being held by Morecambe, with three wins and two draws from the last five it’s Cook’s side shaping up most favourably.

In terms of pitfalls, turning the fabled game in hand over Carlisle into the three points many are already counting is one obstacle.

That adds to the intensity of a run of seven fixtures from 22 days Pompey are now in.

Those games have to be negotiated carefully in terms of squad use, with evidence of tired legs late on against Morecambe.

With seven teams to visit, Fratton Park cannot afford to become the stifling and claustrophobic place it has sometimes been this season.

More of the same as Tuesday night, though, and there will be no worries as the home crowd did their bit to allow their side to play with freedom during ferocious early backing.

An average of two points per match is Cook’s target, or eight wins and two draws from the 13 remaining fixtures.

Keeping on the same path they are currently travelling will get them to their destination.