A play-off port battle which doesn’t need the hype

Danny Rose scores in the 2-2 draw withPlymouth at Home Park last season. Picture: Joe Pepler
Danny Rose scores in the 2-2 draw withPlymouth at Home Park last season. Picture: Joe Pepler
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It’s Plymouth’s biggest game of the season, according to their first-team coach.

It’s also, in slightly curious fashion, been labelled the most eagerly-anticipated port battle in years down Devon way, as the two naval rivals are reunited this weekend.

That moniker does a slight disservice to the two dust-ups last season in the race for League Two supremacy.

And, of course, there was the small matter of a play-off double-header 23 months ago, which seemed quite important at the time.

Of course, the Dockyard Derby label will continue to be applied ahead of the meeting between the two sides at Home Park this weekend. The arguments which shoot down that title have now become as tired as the cliched billing itself.

The 64th meeting between Plymouth and Pompey is one which assumes substantial significance in the bid to make the play-offs, though. For both teams.

That’s really all the build-up this match needs.

Yes, there’s a historical rivalry between the two cities borne out of their naval heritage.

That undoubtedly was ramped up through the Paul Cook era, culminating in the championship being seized in such dramatic style.

But Cook’s exit burst the contempt which had grown through six meetings in two seasons.

Instead of Cook, it’s Jackett v Adams this weekend. Which is a bit like substituting Kofi Annan for Muhammad Ali and trying to sell a fight with Joe Frazier.

Plymouth go into the game with the status of the division’s form side – and look a decent bet to finish in the top six. Quite something when they were bottom on December 9.

Pompey’s season of transition, meanwhile, has been given meaning by improved form of late.

Those are the circumstances which shape the latest meeting. It doesn’t need the hyperbole.