Harrogate boss refutes theory 3G pitch puts Portsmouth at disadvantage - jokes Cup upset would have been easier on grass

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Simon Weaver has played down any advantage Harrogate might have on their artificial surface when they host Pompey in the FA Cup.

And the Town boss joked his side’s chances of causing an upset in the first-round encounter would have been greater if they still had a grass pitch at Wetherby Road.

Pompey make the trip to Harrogate in front of the BT Sport cameras on Monday, aiming to avoid a Cup shock.

The Blues sit 41 places above the National League outfit in the English football pyramid and will be favourites to reach the second round.

But the competition is famed for throwing up a number of surprises, with Harrogate hoping to add their name to that list.

When you throw in the fact Town play on a 3G pitch – a surface Pompey have never won on in eight competitive matches – it points to being a tricky tie for Kenny Jackett’s troops.

Harrogate in action on their 3G pitch at Wetherby Road. Picture: Tony Johnson.

Harrogate in action on their 3G pitch at Wetherby Road. Picture: Tony Johnson.

But the artificial surface is not something Weaver sees as an advantage for his side.

In fact, the Harrogate boss jested he would much rather have had the chance to ‘cut up’ a grass pitch in the build-up to the Blues’ visit.

Weaver said: ‘Good players can play on any surface.

‘It’s not going to be a typical FA Cup tie of the ’90s where the underdog would have a mud heap to play on.

‘It would slow the pace of the game down to make it easier for the lower level players to cause an upset.

‘If it was a grass pitch we might have been training on it all week and cutting it up on purpose!

‘We’re expecting to learn a lot from the event and be better because of the impact the game will give us.’

Traditionally, league sides would expect to be faced with a difficult playing surface when travelling to non-league teams in cup competitions.

But Weaver believes the 3G pitch at Wetherby Road will provide the chance to play attractive, passing football.

‘It’s a fast-running pitch and is probably faster as a surface than other surfaces,’ he added.

‘It doesn’t stop you passing a ball.

‘It will be a good game of football because Portsmouth like to get it back and play, so do we.’