Pompey’s play-offs hopes aren’t dead quite yet.
But it’s pretty clear Tuesday’s night defeat at Bradford put top-six ambitions on life support.
An unlikely late-season charge has gathered pace at a time when impetus is everything. It hit a brick wall at Valley Parade.
Four wins and two draws have come against a backdrop of rhetoric pinpointing the force of nature Pompey can become, when all the forces surrounding the club are pulling in the same direction.
That was until the wind was knocked out of the Blues’ charge on a night which the statistics suggested would accelerate play-off ambitions.
One win in 15 for the Bantams against a team in form was a game the neutral was picking as an away win.
A pre-match straw poll among the travelling Pompey faithful at Valley Parade suggested there were enough factors at play for concern a defeat would arrive, though.
Those fears were well founded in Pompey’s third game on the road in 11 days.
As Jack Whatmough today emphasises, though, there’s no time to look back and linger. The raw facts are the play-offs hopes are still alive, if no longer in Pompey’s hands.
So how do you begin to assess what could possibly unravel over the next two weeks, starting on Saturday?
All the talk emerging from the dressing room on Tuesday night is only three will do now – which would leave them on 72 points.
So, working on the basis that happens, Pompey would finish above Charlton on May 5, with a win for Jackett’s men on Saturday taking them a point above the Addicks on the same number of games.
Similarly, toppling Peterborough on the final day as part of that run would see them finish below the Blues.
Plymouth, though, are the division’s form side, have a point more than Jackett’s men and two games in hand. Those factors combined mean they should be left to run off into the play-off sunset.
Bradford are still alive but even Lazarus has laughed off the idea of a play-off comeback for the Bantams.
Which, with Rotherham already above the Blues’ achievable total, it leaves Scunthorpe as the team all eyes should be on – a team winless in 10 before beating Charlton last weekend.
Walsall, MK Dons, Plymouth and Bradford are the Iron’s remaining games.
They need to lose and be held in two of them. Those are the results which would see a Pompey top-six finish resuscitated.
– JORDAN CROSS