What Portsmouth need to improve on from last season to achieve promotion 

Pompey travel to Peterborough on Saturday where the top two sides in League One will do battle. 

A competitive clash is expected, representing the first real acid test for the Blues this campaign.

Pompey suffered a 3-0 defeat at Blackburn last season. Picture: Joe Pepler

Kenny Jackett's side have yet to meet a side genuinely fancied for promotion to date this term.

And although it's still early days, the game could well have ramifications on where both teams finish in the table come May.

Leaders Posh have made a blistering start to the campaign, securing six victories and a draw from their opening seven matches.

And it’s such heights which will give Steve Evans' troops confidence they can continue such levels of form for the remainder of the season.

Meanwhile, automatic promotion will be a realistic aim for many in the Fratton Park camp after the Blues' start.

Five wins and two draws sees them second in League One – two points adrift of the Posh – and also with an unbeaten record.

But to achieve their ambition, Jackett's troops will have to significantly improve one factor that let them down last season – their form against top-six opposition.

The Blues came within two places and five points of reaching the play-offs in the 2017-18 campaign.

And how they performed against their promotion rivals was a significant factor behind them missing out on a top-six berth.

From a possible 36 points against the sides that finished in the play-offs or above, Pompey picked up just eight.

From the 12 matches, Jackett's men won two, drew two and lost eight – a success rate of a disappointing 16.66 per cent.

Ironically, it was champions Wigan who the Blues performed best against.

The fact Paul Cook left PO4 for the Latics just weeks after the League Two title triumph may have been a factor – especially in the 2-1 victory at Fratton Park.

And, in truth, the Blues should have returned from the DW Stadium empty-handed.

The visitors were indebted to a string of top-drawer saves from Luke McGee and a Conor Chaplin header to earn a 1-1 draw.

Pompey’s only other win against a play-off side was at Charlton, with Josh Magennis' own goal proving decisive at The Valley.

The only other point the Blues earned last term against a top-six outfit was a 1-1 home draw with Scunthorpe.

Apart from that, they came up short on every other occasion.

There were times when Pompey could have counted themselves unlucky not to get anything from certain games.

Jackett's rearguard performed admirably at Rotherham, before conceding a 91st-minute Joe Mattock goal to suffer a 1-0 defeat.

Meanwhile, the Blues could have been awarded a penalty in the 1-0 loss to Shrewsbury at Fratton Park.

Brett Pitman also hit the bar in the game.

But there were plenty of matches when Pompey deserved nothing against those sides that eventually finished above them in the table.

The 3-0 loss at Blackburn, the 2-0 defeat at Scunthorpe and a 1-0 reverse at home to Charlton are three examples of insipid Blues displays.

Jackett will be aware his side's results against the top six were nowhere near good enough last term.

It's something that needs remedying this time around if Pompey are to reach the Championship – starting at London Road on Saturday.

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