No split loyalties for Denmead's Matt Butcher as Accrington star plots downfall of Portsmouth club he supports
Pompey fan Matt Butcher is adamant they’ll be no split loyalties as he guns for a Fratton Park victory with Accrington.
Danny Cowley’s side can secure a League One play-off semi-final spot on Sunday.
Victory over 13th-placed Stanley will ensure qualification, although a point may well be enough depending on how rivals Oxford United and Charlton fare.
For ex-Cowplain School pupil Butcher, the fixture represents a second treasured opportunity to play at the ground he attended as a Blues supporter.
Having grown up idolising Matt Taylor and with friends who remain season-ticket holders, Sunday promises to be an emotional day.
Yet the 23-year-old is focused on ending his maiden Accrington season on a high – by defeating his beloved Blues.
Butcher told The News: ‘My family have learnt to support who I am playing for rather than the other team, so I think I’ll be all right!
‘A big highlight of my career so far was playing at Fratton Park with Yeovil in 2017. Although there won’t be any fans there this time, it’s always nice to go back to where you sat as a kid.
‘Pompey at our place was one of the first fixtures I looked for, only for Covid to rearrange that for the last two weeks of the season.
‘I then missed the rearranged game through injury, which was disappointing. Hopefully I can play in this one.
‘Still, I’m an Accrington player and, after our own hopes of the play-offs fizzled out, we've since been looking to take points off the clubs still playing for something.
‘It makes this game exciting for us as well. We want to end on a high and take some momentum into next season.
‘We feel disappointed with the season, especially considering the position we put ourselves in midway through it.
‘We’re coming off the back of this feeling that we should have been higher and pushing for promotion.
‘It’s not the case of thinking “We’ve done well, it’s the season over”, we’re actually still looking to impress and get better and better with each game.’
A hamstring tweak sustained against Sunderland days before ruled Butcher out of last month’s clash between the sides.
It subsequently kept the central midfielder on the sidelines for two matches, although he hopes to be available for Sunday.
And the Denmead youngster has rattled up 49 appearances and two goals so far this term.
He added: ‘It has been brilliant, I have loved every minute up there.
‘With the amount of games it was always about how your body’s going to respond. The outcome is I can tick off my own personal question marks.
‘You are your own harshest critic, you always think you can do better, and I still feel I have a lot more to give.’
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