Clarke: Still an edge to Plymouth rivalry

Pompey defender Matt Clarke Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey defender Matt Clarke Picture: Joe Pepler
Karl Robinson. Picture: Sharon Lucey

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MATT CLARKE is ready renew a rivalry with fire against Plymouth.

And the defender believes their foes will be out to settle the score with Pompey after being pipped to last season’s League Two title.

Clarke feels tomorrow’s Fratton Park showdown will be another clash with an edge as the two naval ports prepare to go into battle again.

It’s a sell out for home fans, with the Pilgrims taking around 1,700 of a 2,800 allocation to ensure it’ll be another tasty atmosphere as the two sides lock horns.

Clarke told of how the desire to come out on top against Derek Adams’ side still exists in the Blues’ dressing room, despite the personnel changes since last term.

The 21-year-old sees the showdown being more of the same to the previous meetings over the past couple of seasons.

Clarke said: ‘The games with Plymouth are always good.

‘Every time I’ve played there, and especially at our place, the atmosphere and game’s got an edge to it.

‘As players they are the games you want to be involved in, so we’re looking forward to it and hopefully we can get the better of them.

‘With being in the same league and the play-offs, we’ve seen more of each other.

‘It’s a half-rivalry which has come about from seeing a lot of each other.

‘You want games with an edge to them. That’s what fans want and that’s what players want. You don’t want games where there’s no-one there and it doesn’t seem to mean a lot.

‘You want games with fire in them and they usually do when we play Plymouth.

‘When you’re on the pitch, you look around and see the game’s a sell out. That always brings an edge and intensity to the atmosphere.

‘Is the rivalry still the same? We’ll have to see Saturday.

‘The players who’ve been involved in it want to beat Plymouth, and their players who’ve played in these games before want to beat us.

‘We’ll both have to go into it with that mind-set and see who comes out on top.’

Despite missing the 2015-16 play-off defeat to Plymouth, Clarke still remembers the disappointment of the away loss at Home Park.

Final-day title victory last term exorcised that pain, but the former Ipswich man feels the Pilgrims will be hungry to settle that score.

‘There was a bit of cheek to the way it happened last season. No-one saw it happening,’ added Clarke.

‘But we did it and maybe they feel like they owe us one. We’ll see what happens.

‘I was at both the play-off games. The atmosphere at Fratton Park was electric.

‘The place erupted after that early goal. Then it wasn’t so good at their place when we never got going on the day.

‘Everyone was down, but that fired us to go again next season and get the job done.

‘So to then do it the way we did and win the title was what the club and everyone wanted. I think we deserved it.’