Portsmouth: This is no Oxford United revenge mission - the play-off past is now irrelevant

Joe Gallen is adamant there will be no revenge mission against Pompey play-off conquerors Oxford United.

Monday, 23rd November 2020, 5:00 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd November 2020, 5:03 pm
Pompey were left heartbroken after their last encounter with Oxford United ended in play-off elimination in July. Picture: Robin Jones/Getty Images)
Pompey were left heartbroken after their last encounter with Oxford United ended in play-off elimination in July. Picture: Robin Jones/Getty Images)

Kenny Jackett’s men tomorrow night host the U’s in the first fixture between the clubs since July’s League One semi-final clash.

On that occasion, Karl Robinson’s side triumphed in a penalty shoot-out to defeat the Blues and progress to the Wembley final.

Now, four-and-a-half months later, they lock horns again.

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Except on this occasion Pompey are positioned fourth in the table, while Oxford are outside the relegation zone on goal difference.

And the Blues’ assistant boss is adamant that heartbreaking play-off defeat has absolutely no bearing on the present.

Gallen told The News: ‘You just have to concentrate on what comes next as opposed to what happened a couple of months ago – it’s irrelevant really.

‘What happens tomorrow night is the only relevant thing.

‘We are looking to not get too emotional about the game and are seeking to produce a good performance in order to get the points.

‘You just have to look at what’s next – the past has gone.

‘It’s looking forward, Oxford have a very good manager, very good players and we expect a really tough game. We have to look forward.

‘We are in good form, but I don’t want to read into the league table too much, we still have to play very well to beat Oxford.

‘Oxford are a tough nut to crack and we are going to have to play very well in order to try to get the three points.

‘Last season we had four very tight games, nothing really in any of them, yet we look forward.

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‘In this league, coming up against Oxford is always tough, coming up against Karl is always tough, but we are confident.

‘Although I envisage another tight game.’

The sides met on four occasions last season – all resulting in draws.

However, Pompey beat Oxford on a penalty shoot-out in the group section of the Leasing.com Trophy, while the U’s claimed progress in the play-offs through the same method.

Robinson’s men have surprisingly struggled so far this season, finding themselves 19th in League One.

But Gallen anticipates a resurgence – taking them into the top six by the season’s end.

He added: ‘We’ve played them six times in two seasons now.

Basically, they know a lot about us and we know a lot about them. You put all these draws down to that.

‘I expect them to be in the top six at the end of the season.

‘I’m surprised they are not there already, but I expect them to be there pretty soon.’

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