Familiar stadiums and faces on Pompey’s agenda next season

Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey aiming for place where normal business rules don’t apply

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The PLAY-OFFS are done and dusted and Pompey now know the 23 teams they’ll be playing in League One during the 2018-19 season.

And, to the delight of those die-hard fans planning on attending every away fixture, they’ll be spending less time travelling up and down the country.

Pompey boss Avram Grant confronts referee Kevin Friend on the Fratton Park pitch at half-time in 2010

Pompey boss Avram Grant confronts referee Kevin Friend on the Fratton Park pitch at half-time in 2010

The Blues will clock up 8471 miles on the road next season as they bid for promotion back to the Championship.

That’s 285 miles fewer compared to last term, after Kenny Jackett’s troops recording eight victories, three draws and 12 defeats away from Fratton Park in the 2017-18 campaign.

The number of times Pompey will visit the north of the country is nine – a decrease of two.

But the one trip most fans will be relishing the most is by far the longest.

Lucas Akins scores Burton's second goal in a 2-0 defeat for Pompey at the Pirelli Stadium in 2014

Lucas Akins scores Burton's second goal in a 2-0 defeat for Pompey at the Pirelli Stadium in 2014

Sunderland’s relegation from the Championship means Jackett’s men will be returning to the Stadium of Light for the first time in nine seasons.

Granted, it’s highly unlikely Blues boss Jackett will be running on the pitch to confront the referee like one of his Blues predecessors.

That’s what Avram Grant did when incensed with Kevin Friend during the Black Cats’ last visit to Fratton Park in Febuary 2010.

But while Pompey fans will be excited at the prospect of a reunion with Sunderland’s Stadium of Light, they have to put up with a 680-mile round trip.

Also dropping down to League One are Barnsley (478m there and back) and Burton Albion (364).

It’s been seven campaigns since the Blues met the Tykes, with their last meeting at Oakwell (February 2012) resulting in a 2-0 defeat.

Meanwhile, Pompey have only faced Burton four times in the club’s history.

Their last meeting ended a 1-1 draw at Fratton Park, with Jed Wallace scoring for the hosts. Earlier in that 2014-15 League Two season, Andy Awford’s side lost 2-0 at the Pirelli Stadium.

Coventry’s triumph in the League Two play-off final against Exeter on Monday means there will be a potential Fratton Park return for ex-captain Michael Doyle and former fans’ favourite Marc McNulty.

It’s a 272-mile round trip to the Ricoh Arena, with this season’s fixtures representing the first time the two clubs have met in the league for six campaigns.

The last time they squared up, Wallace and Patrick Agyemang scored in a 2013 2-0 League One win at Fratton Park.

Blues fans have become accustomed to the route to Accrington Stanley’s Crown Ground in recent years, having made the 578-mile round trip four times since their maiden meeting in 2013.

Paul Cook’s troops defeated John Coleman’s Stanley 2-0 on the road to the 2016-17 League Two title.

The year before that, temperatures rose after the Accrington boss fielded ex-Pompey player Rommy Boco – despite a gentleman’s agreement not to.

Both Luton (195) and Wycombe’s (168.6) promotions into the third tier will have been welcomed by the Fratton faithful.

As matches on the road go, they’re short and sweet. But even less time-consuming is an away day at Wimbledon, with a trip to Kingsmeadow remaining Pompey’s shortest round trip (126).