The massive advantage Oxford United skipper believes is up for grabs at Fratton Park against Portsmouth
Oxford United skipper John Mousinho believes whoever comes to terms with playing at an empty Fratton Park will snare a ‘massive advantage’ when the play-offs get underway.
Mousinho reckons the unprecedented scenario of the League One end-of-season shootout being played behind closed doors amid the coronavirus pandemic will present an unusual scenario for players of both sides to get accustomed to.
And whoever adaps to those circumstances best stand to gain a sizeable edge in their quest to reach the Championship.
Mousinho told the Oxford Mail: ‘It’s going to be very strange.
‘The crowd aren’t there and you’re going to have to motivate yourselves.
‘I think we’ll have to go down other avenues of how we’re going to do that, because naturally some lads do take massive amounts of motivation from coming out to packed stadiums.
‘It’s natural when you walk out of the tunnel to feel that rush of adrenalin.
‘You can’t even compare it to the atmosphere of a pre-season friendly, because it’s going to be even quieter.
‘How you get your head around it and deal with it is going to be very interesting.
‘Whoever deals with that is going to have a massive advantage.’
Mousinho has play-off experience and has ended up a winner and loser in that environment - being beaten by Sheffield United when at Stevenange and scoring the winner in the final against Torquay the previous season.
Releasing the magnitude of the occasion is key to a player’s mindset in the view of the 34-year-old.
He added: ‘What we did at the time was we didn’t treat the play-off matches like they were any other games.
‘I know sometimes that’s how people want to approach it, but we recognised the gravity of the situation and tried to address that quite early.
‘I think not trying to fob it off as just another game meant we understood the importance of the situation.
‘I think we’ll have to do the same this time, we’ll have to recognise it’s an unbelievable place for Oxford to be.
‘I think we’ve got to look at the recent history of the club and take it into account.’
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