'He loves it' - why Sky Sports duo believe Portsmouth play-off hunt is no foregone conclusion with Accrington lying in wait
Accrington’s ‘knack of throwing a spanner in the works’ makes them opponents you wouldn’t want to face on the final day of the season if promotion depended on it.
That’s the shared conclusion of Sky Sports EFL Podcast pundits Keith Andrews and Daniel Mann, which is hardly the news Pompey fans will want to hear heading into Sunday’s campaign-defining game against Accrington.
The Blues go into the Fratton Park match (midday kick off) knowing victory guarantees them a spot in the play-offs for a third successive season. Anything less would likely see them miss out completely and guarantee remaining in the third tier for a fifth year.
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Former Ipswich and Republic of Ireland midfielder Andrews believes Danny Cowley’s sixth-placed side are where they would want to be in such a situation – at home against opponents with nothing to play for.
But he’s of the opinion that Accy boss John Coleman ‘loves’ this type of scenario and would revel in upsetting best-laid Pompey plans – or at least making life as difficult as possible for their hosts.
Speaking about the Blues, Andrews said: ‘What you want going into the last day in their (Pompey's) type of scenario – you want to be at home, you want to be in your own venue, the familiarity, sleeping in your own bed the night before, your routine is all set.
‘You want to play against a team that, on paper, doesn’t have anything to play for.
‘So, there’s a lot of things going for them (Pompey), but Accrington have a knack of just throwing a spanner in the works.
‘I think he loves it, Mr Coleman, I really do.
‘You even look at the weekend with Charlton. Again, Charlton at home, Accrington had nothing to play for and they (the Addicks) need a 95th-minute equaliser.
‘So, yes, it’s what you would want if you were Danny Cowley & Co.
‘They’re in a decent place, they had a really good win at the weekend, a comfortable win, but it’s going to be difficult.
‘Whatever way that game materialises, I very much doubt it’s going to be a comfortable 3-0 win, where they get a couple of early goals and can play with a nice, easy tempo to the game.
‘It will be difficult, but they’re in the position you would want to be in going into the last day.’
Fellow pundit Mann – a Sky Sports commentator – agreed with Andrews’ assessment.
And with Accrington claiming points against five promotion contenders – including the Blues – just last month, he believes the race for sixth place remains wide open going into the final day of the regular season.
‘You don’t have to go back that far to see how competitive Accrington can be against a team like Portsmouth,' said Mann.
‘I mean, they drew 3-3 only the other week in an extraordinary match and they’ve had another fantastic season, Accrington, under John Coleman.
‘Look at their results recently against teams in and around the shake-up.
‘They went to Oxford and won, draws against Blackpool, Sunderland, Portsmouth, Charlton.
‘They are possibly, the one team you wouldn’t want to face, whether it’s at home, away or anywhere else on the final day of the season needing a result.
‘Dion Charles has had a great season, Coby Bishop is having a decent time.
‘So I would say that situation in League One, for me, is still wide open.’