The points tally Pompey need to reach the play-offs
Seventy-four is the magic number.
No, it’s not a remix of De La Soul’s 1990 hit.
It’s the points tally Pompey will most likely need to achieve if they’re to finish in this season’s League One play-off places – if previous years are anything to go by.
In the past 10 years, 74 is the average number of points the team who has finished sixth in League One has accumulated.
Of course, there have been exceptions to that rule.
In the 2014-15 season, Chesterfield only needed 69 points, while, in contrast, Huddersfield had to collect 80 in the 2009-10 campaign.
With 18 matches and 54 points left to play for, Kenny Jackett’s outfit may need 32 more to reach that magicial figure.
That’s at an average of 1.78 points per game between now and the end of the season to reach the play-offs.
With the Blues’ current points-per-game average sitting at 1.5, that’s an increase of 0.28 per match, having registered 42 points from 28 games so far.
If all of Pompey’s remaining matches were at home, you’d be feeling confident they’ll be in the play-off semi-finals come May.
Fratton Park is once again a fortress, with 29 points being collected on the Blues’ own patch.
However, Pompey have been unable to convert that form on the road.
Saturday’s defeat to Rotherham was their ninth loss on their travels this season – and sixth in eight matches away from PO4.
As a result, Pompey were leapfrogged by the Millers and now sit ninth in the table – four points off the play-off places.
For a side who harbour promotion ambitions, it’s imperative Jackett’s outfit’s form away from home improves.
The manager knows it, the players know it and the Fratton faithful know it.
Yet the Blues’ run-in could well see their form away from home improve.
Pompey still have to visit each team currently in the bottom five, and there’s an opportunity to collect maximum points in all of those games.
They go to 21st-place MK Dons on February 10, before visiting Southend – just one point above the relegation zone – a week later.
There are then trips to Oldham, Rochdale and Bury – all of whom are in the drop zone – while Walsall are hovering not far off the bottom four.
Meanwhile, a result at play-off rivals Bradford on March 3 isn’t out of the question, either, as the Bantams have lost seven times at Valley Parade this term.
Pompey’s toughest fixtures left are on home soil – but that’s the way they would want it to be.
The Blues welcome Shrewsbury to Fratton Park on Saturday, while second-placed Blackburn, leaders Wigan and sixth-placed Charlton are still to visit PO4, as well as Oxford and Peterborough.
Granted, Pompey’s record against the top six leaves a lot to be desired.
But their recent performance in the draw against Scunthorpe and smash-and-grab loss to Bradford in October suggests Jackett’s outfit are more than capable of delivering success against their top-six rivals on their own patch.
Wigan will be in for a hostile reception on Paul Cook’s return to Fratton Park, while the Blues have already defeated Charlton this term.
Since the loss to Rovers in October, Pompey have improved and if it wasn’t for two defensive errors, they were on for a 0-0 draw at the Shrews last month.
Meanwhile, Doncaster, Blackpool and Gillingham’s visits are all matches Pompey will be expected to deliver three points from.