The improvements Portsmouth need to make to beat likes of Plymouth Argyle, Ipswich Town, Oxford United & Co to play-offs

Danny Cowley believes Pompey have a strong finish in them this season.

By Jordan Cross
Tuesday, 25th January 2022, 4:55 am

But just how powerful does it have to be to ensure they finish in the play-offs and extend their campaign beyond April 30?

Defeat at Sunderland left Danny Cowley’s men 10th in the League One table - eight points off the top six.

That made it four league games without a win, with a single goal scored in that period.

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Such form has left many fans believing a play-off finish is beyond them, although over a longer period the form is a more impressive two losses in 13.

So improvements are needed, but maybe not as much as many would believe.

A look at the average amount of points required to finish in the top six over the past 20 seasons, in which the campaign was played to its natural conclusion, shows a mean total of 74.1 is required.

The lowest total over that period was the 69 points which got Paul Cook’s Chesterfield into the play-offs in the 2014-15 season, while Cardiff required a whopping 81 points to do likewise in the 2002-03 campaign.

Danny Cowley. (Photo by Daniel Chesterton/

Breaking the 74-point target down into points per game returns a figure of 1.8.

With Pompey on 38 points from 26 games, they are currently averaging 1.46 points per game.

There is also the reality this season could see a higher than normal points total required to reach the play-offs, however.

In the 2002-03 campaign which saw the high watermark for reaching the play-offs recorded, QPR were in sixth place after 27 games on 43 points. Oxford currently occupy the same position on 46 points.

Those comparable returns suggest the number could be pushed up from the average this term, although in that campaign there was sizeable 15 gap between Tranmere in seventh and Plymouth in eighth.

This term there are no signs of such a chasm developing, suggesting teams are taking points off each other - a pattern which could keep the amount needed to make the play-offs down.

Whatever the total, is Pompey fans will know their eyes tell them their team need to quickly find some goal threat – or any thoughts of making the play-offs will soon be made redundant.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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