What Portsmouth's defeat to Sutton United means for the club's EFL Trophy fate and the sequence of events needed to reach knockout stages
Pompey’s EFL Trophy fate is no longer in their own hands after recording consecutive defeats in the competition.
After losses to AFC Wimbledon and Sutton United, the Blues are on the cusp of exiting the competition in the group stages for the first time since its reform in 2016.
And if the club were harbouring ambitions to hold the trophy aloft at Wembley they had to realistically beat the Us last night, but Danny Cowley’s squad fell short as the League Two outfit expertly nullified the fringe players selected.
This means that Pompey will rely on favours from the other teams in their group, while having to force a sizeable goal swing of their own to progress into the knockout stages.
However, Pompey’s fate may already be sealed before they next kick a ball in the Papa John’s Trophy when Crystal Palace under-21s face the Dons on October 26. Anything other than an Eagles victory will end the Fratton outfits’ campaign as Wimbledon will be out of reach.
If the Selhurst Park youngsters do conjure a win, the Blues will have to beat them comprehensively at home to improve their miserable goal difference. Realistically, Pompey would have to thrash Paddy McCarthy’s side by six clear goals in an attempt to better Wimbledon’s total.
The Blues still won’t be out of the woods if these unlikely events happen, either. They would need Sutton to beat the Plough Lane outfit in the final matchday, as a draw will allow Mark Robinson’s side to progress.
And with the Us already through, it’s more than likely they’ll use the fixture as a chance to field players in need of match minutes alongside their promising youngsters, handing the Dons a sizeable chance of avoiding defeat.
Although it’s never ideal to exit a competition early, it may prove to be a blessing in disguise for the club. Dropping out would lead to fewer games in their already busy schedule which could prove crucial in the latter stages of the season.