Kenny Jackett: Portsmouth and Oxford couldn't be separated in league and cup - now play-offs will decide
Only a penalty shoot-out has managed to prise apart Pompey and Oxford so far this season.
Certainly Blues boss Kenny Jackett recognises how evenly matched the rivals are as they prepare to do battle in the League One play-offs.
The early curtailment of the campaign prevented a scheduled Kassam Stadium encounter in the league.
Still, the teams have already met twice – both occasions ending in draws after 90 minutes.
At Fratton Park in November, Matty Taylor’s stoppage-time header stole a point with a 1-1 draw.
The previous month, Alex Bass had produced a goalkeeping masterclass in a 2-2 Leasing.com Trophy stalemate at Oxford.
That fixture was ultimately decided by penalties, the Blues winning 5-4 in a shoot-out which contained five misses.
As for league standings, the teams were level on 60 points at the time of the season ending. Albeit, Oxford had a better goal difference of plus seven.
And now they meet on Friday.
Jackett said: ‘Both sides finished on exactly the same points, which shows you how tight it is.
‘We had a 1-1 draw earlier in the season when Matty Taylor got an excellent header at the end to equalise for them. In the cup it ended in a draw before penalties.
‘It demonstrates how close it is. In terms of League One, I don’t think anybody towards the top would have necessarily got away from the rest before the season stopped.
‘Us and Oxford are two of the more consistent sides and I would think these play-offs will be a very, very good competition.
‘From their point of view, they have had a good season – as have we. It shows how tight the league is both finish on the same points.’
Oxford had registered five successive wins before football was suspended in March.
Then again, Pompey had won 13 of their latest 18 in all competitions before that enforced break.
Jackett added: ‘They are a very good team and have quality all over the pitch. Karl has moulded that side into a very effective unit this year.
‘Obviously we will have some focus on the opposition, but not completely because you have to play yourself.
‘I recognise their strengths and where we think we can hurt then. Similarly, we would never focus totally on the opposition, it doesn’t work.’
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