Making the play-offs would be a world beater

Pompey boss Steve Cotterill enjoys training yesterday Picture: Robin Jones
Pompey boss Steve Cotterill enjoys training yesterday Picture: Robin Jones
Pompey's Brandon Haunstrup

Pompey will fight until play-offs are mathematically impossible

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Steve Cotterill insists Pompey making the play-offs this season would be an achievement unsurpassed in world football.

Pompey go to Bristol City tonight daring to dream of a late surge towards the end-of-season Premier League shootout.

They could equal their best-ever run of seven straight league wins with another three points at Ashton Gate.

Six victories on the bounce – along with a post-war league record-equalling six clean sheets – has given hope of a searing finale to the campaign.

Blues keeper Jamie Ashdown has to go 35 minutes without conceding to break Peter Mellor’s league record set in the 1978-79 season.

Pompey go into tonight’s game hoping to shorten the seven-point gap on Leeds United in sixth place.

While Cotterill feels his men have a long way to go, he believes pulling off the feat would be meteoric, given all the off-the-field issues the club have had to deal with this season.

He said: ‘I’m forever the optimist.

‘If making the play-offs was to happen it would probably be the biggest achievement in world football.

‘There’s no doubt about that in my mind.

‘Maybe people nationally don’t realise everything that we’ve had to deal with here.

‘We’ve got a couple more games now which will take us into the international break.

‘Then we can see how the land lies at that stage.

‘That’s all we are focusing on at the moment.

‘We’ve got the Bristol City game and Middlesbrough following after that.

‘The nice thing after that is we then have a clear week.

‘That’s a good thing for us that we have that going into the Leicester game.

‘It’s a great run but we have to keep our feet on the ground and see where we are after a couple more games.

‘Hopefully, we can just keep the run going and keep on climbing up the table.’

Fifty-nine minutes without conceding against the Robins tonight will also see Pompey’s overall post-war run without shipping a goal surrendered.

That came in a run comprising six league and a single cup game without conceding – also in the 1978-79 season.

Pompey’s best run of league victories came with seven successes on the bounce in 2002 and also in 1983.

Cotterill believes the simple fact these records and play-off talk is on the agenda speaks of the club’s outstanding progress this season.

He said: ‘This game is all about the fans and it’s great they are talking about the play-offs.

‘It’s not about the managers and it’s not about these players – it’s about them.

‘Managers come and managers go. It’s a transitional sport but the fans are always there.

‘Deep down I’m a football fan and I’m the manager of Portsmouth – so I’m a Portsmouth fan.

‘This is my club and, hopefully, that will continue.

‘Hopefully, I can help us carry on climbing up the table.

‘It’s a credit to the players that we have had this run.

‘I’m an optimist but we have to take it in our stride.

‘It’s nice for our fans to be talking about the play-offs, though.’