Portsmouth’s lead at top is great –  but advantage to third more important

WHEN surveying the League One table, it’s only natural to be drawn to Pompey’s advantage at the summit of the table.

The Blues sit four points ahead of second-placed Sunderland after 19 games apiece.

Pompey boss Kenny Jackett. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey boss Kenny Jackett. Picture: Joe Pepler

Kenny Jackett’s troops have refused to surrender top spot for exactly two months now, following their 3-1 victory at Rochdale on September 29.

Pompey’s aim will be to clinch the League One title this season, having displayed they have all of the right attributes so far.

The Fratton faithful are dreaming of a second piece of silverware in three years, after Paul Cook led the Blues to the fourth-tier crown in 2017.

But it’s well worth glancing at the bigger picture and assessing just how strong a position Jackett’s side are to achieving promotion.

Reaching the Championship was the primary target at the start of the season and Pompey are well on track to do so.

After all, the top-two sides from League One move into the second tier automatically. 

That means there’s no lottery ticket of the play-offs which Blues supporters only know the pain of too well. That late defeat to Plymouth in 2016 still makes fans shudder.

Finishing in the automatic places would very much be a job well done – even without a trophy.

After May 4, Jackett wouldn’t have to think about preparing for potentially another three games.

Instead, he could plot Pompey first campaign in the Championship since 2011-12.

The Blues are in a commanding position at present to remain in the top two. They’ve amassed 44 points so far – six more than third-placed Luton.

The Hatters are the form side of the division, after collecting 19 points from a possible 21 in their past seven games.

A decent margin still separates them and Pompey, though.

And, crucially, Luton have played a match more. Peterborough, in fourth spot, only trail the Hatters on goal difference but have too completed 20 fixtures.

Jackett’s side’s game in hand comes against Charlton on Tuesday, December 11. It’ll be a difficult clash against the sixth-placed side currently on 34 points, but Pompey will confident of another success. 

So if neither Luton nor Peterborough drop points come the Addicks’ trip to Fratton Park, the Blues could end that night with a nine-point cushion inside the automatics.    

That would certainly be commanding figure heading into the festive period and the second half of the campaign.