Good news - Portsmouth's off. Bad news - it's back at Charlton on Tuesday. A day of sunshine and rain.

It flipped from a heartening result an hour before kick-off to resuming brace position for a Pompey return in three days.

Saturday, 30th January 2021, 5:30 pm
Saturday's Pompey trip to Charlton was called off an hour before kick-off. Picture: Jacques Feeney/Getty Images

The trip to the Valley was eventful, without a ball being kicked.

Well, other than by referee Bobby Madley in his attempts to assess whether Saturday’s clash with Charlton should proceed.

As it was, tellingly the ball thudded against the drenched turf, with just a hint of a bounce.

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Granted, there was little trace of excess water on the Valley pitch. Certainly no build up of on-pitch pools were visible from the main stand’s press box, even if the sidelines were saturated.

Crucially, however, the heavy rain was continuing to fall – and at 2pm the performance of the ball had already been significantly impacted.

As Madley agonised over his decision, Pompey goalkeeping coach John Keeley was nearby exchanging passes with another player, potentially newcomer Lewis Ward.

Whether they had been instructed to or not, it provided more compelling evidence as the ball stuttered along its journey with each kick.

Earlier, Kenny Jackett had conducted his own inspection, his lonely walk taking him to the halfway line and then the penalty area drawing a grim conclusion.

Meanwhile, of Pompey’s players, just Tom Naylor, Sean Raggett and John Marquis, had entered the pitch for the customary pre-match stroll.

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The rest respected their judgment, instead watching from the sidelines and keeping trainers clean.

Few at the Valley disagreed with Madley’s ruling, even if many of those not present queried the sanity of the match official.

Still, on the positive side, at least it removed the potential for a third straight defeat for the Blues – and against fellow promotion contenders.

Not that Pompey would definitely have lost, of course, let’s not be too gloomy about what may have unfolded at Charlton.

Yet Jackett’s fifth-placed men could ill-afford another awful result and slip further behind. Besides, perhaps Jack Whatmough would be available for the rematch.

Yes Whatmough, one of the Blues’ stars of the season and their best defender, despite his forgettable previous two appearances yielding two own goals and a red card.

Pompey are undoubtedly a better side with the centre-half present. They need him for all the games they can.

Unfortunately, he must now serve a three-match ban. Look on the bright side, though, cancellation of Charlton could signal his attendance when rearranged.

Except that also didn’t pan out as anticipated.

Within a few hours of the postponement, there was another grand announcement – the sides would now meet back at the Valley on Tuesday evening.

Whatmough still out and dreaded thoughts of three successive losses to rivals is back on the table.

So much for looking for sunshine amid the rain.

On Tuesday we’ll be back in South London to do it all again – except here’s to a Pompey win to kickstart their promotion push once more.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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