The big opportunity Portsmouth simply have to take at Rochdale

It’s a stat that underlines there has been progress.

Wednesday, 20th November 2019, 10:59 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th November 2019, 4:51 pm

While some of the Fratton faithful remain dissatisfied, Pompey's 2-1 win at Harrogate means they’ve lost just once in their past 10 matches in all competitions.

Granted, the Blues have been largely unconvincing during that period – dropping points against AFC Wimbledon, Bristol Rovers and Oxford when conceding late goals – but Kenny Jackett’s men have accrued 15 points from their past eight League One games.

That puts them just shy of the two-points-per-game ratio that usually yields automatic promotion. If that sort of form is maintained, a play-off spot won't be too far out of the question come May.

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It’s been at Fratton Park where Pompey have collected the majority of their tally this term, with four wins and four draws.

On their travels, however, it has been a different case.

Last campaign, Jackett’s side were crowned the third tier’s away-day specialists, picking up 45 points in total.

Yet this campaign on the road, Pompey have managed just one league success. That arrived in a 2-1 win at Doncaster in what could only be described as an archetypal smash and grab.

Pompey celebrate Andre Green's late FA Cup winner at Rochdale last season. Picture: Joe Pepler

In fairness, the Blues have yet to be put to the sword either, despite suffering defeats at Shrewsbury, Sunderland, Wycombe and Wimbledon by a single goal.

But they’re also yet to fully impress away from PO4 after labouring to victory at non-league Harrogate last time out.

What’s required is an impressive display on the road that will the travelling Fratton faithful something to cheer about on the way back down to the south coast rather than bemoan another uninspiring performance.

And Rochdale appear a perfect opposition for the Blues to do so on Saturday.

Brian Barry-Murphy’s team sit 16th in the table on 19 points, although they’ve played three games more than Pompey.

Their form at Spotland has been their major downfall, amassing only nine points from as many matches. Their two home wins have come against struggling sides Accrington and MK Dons.

What’s more, the Dale had a tough FA Cup first-round replay against Wrexham on Tuesday night.

They advanced into the second round of the competition with a 1-0 victory, but it was an additional fixture Barry-Murphy undoubtedly wished he’d have avoided.

And with Rochdale also losing 2-1 at Coventry at the weekend, it means they’ve racked up 180 minutes of football since the Blues won at Harrogate.

That’ll mean the visitors will have a significant advantage when it comes to freshness.

Jackett’s troops were able to recharge their batteries after Saturday’s encounter with Fleetwood was postponed because of international call-ups and have a clear week on the training ground to work on specific areas that need improving on.

Pompey also have a decent record against the Dale, winning the fixture 3-1 last season and 4-1 at Fratton Park, as well as clinching a 1-0 FA Cup second-round victory at Spotland.

It all leads to the conclusion that the Blues have plenty to their advantage ahead of the long trip up the M6.

It’s a big opportunity to deliver just a second league away win of the campaign – and one that can’t be missed if they’re to thrust themselves into the promotion picture.