Why Fleetwood postponing trip to Fratton Park should be considered a compliment to Portsmouth

Not for the first time this season, Pompey fans are being forced to make alternative, less-appealing arrangements.

Friday, 8th November 2019, 10:35 am
Updated Friday, 8th November 2019, 3:27 pm

Fleetwood’s decision to postpone their trip to Fratton Park on Saturday, November 16 due to international call-ups represents a fourth match-day cancellation already for Blues supporters this season.

And it follows quickly on the heels of back-up plans being made following the shelving of the Rotherham, Southend and Bury fixtures for various reasons.

With Kenny Jackett’s side in FA Cup action against Harrogate on Monday, it means they’ll be without a League One fixture for 19 days.

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Undoubtedly, that’ll frustrate the Blues boss – along with everyone else at Fratton Park – as it curtails the momentum his side have been slowly but surely building in recent weeks.

Don’t forget, Jackett was keen for the game against Fleetwood to go ahead – irrespective of having Craig MacGillivray (Scotland), Ronan Curtis (Republic of Ireland) and Ross McCrorie (Scotland under-21s) all potentially absent.

So the fact that Joey Barton exercised the right to call off his side’s visit to PO4 has to be regarded as a complement to Pompey.

Fleetwood have opened their 2019-20 campaign in decent fashion.

Ronan Curtis in action for Pompey against Fleetwood at Fratton Park last season. Picture: Joe Pepler

They’ve collected 26 points from 15 games and currently sit in the play-off places, occupying fifth spot.

The Black Cats only trailed Fleetwood by three points – but Barton felt last season’s beaten play-off finalist were ‘smart’ to avoid his in-form side.

‘At this moment, we’ll beat anyone, anywhere at any time,’ said the former Manchester City midfielder.

‘If I was in their position and looked at their momentum, our momentum, their team and our team I would have done the same.

‘If Joey Barton and Fleetwood rock into town and do what we can do and what we showed last season at home and away, with a group which is nowhere near as strong as it is now, for Jack Ross, we are the last team that you want to face given their situation.

‘They have to play us at some time because you have to play everyone twice.

‘It’s smart to avoid us, because they know if they play us now there’s only one outcome.’

Fast forward to a month later and now it’s Barton who’s deciding to postpone a fixture during the international break.

By his own admission, the Fleetwood boss has been concerned by the mentality of his players, after their 2-1 defeat at basement-side Bolton on Saturday.

In fact, Barton revealed the Cod Army’s form on the road has been ‘killing' his side, having picked up just two wins on their travels.

It’s likely the ex-Newcastle player is well aware that Pompey – irrespective of their 13th place in the table – are unbeaten at Fratton Park this term, winning four and drawing four of their eight matches to date.

Moreover, with Curtis available and starting to hit good form again, that is something Fleetwood probably weren’t expecting as they initially contemplated a trip to the south coast.

Blues assistant manager Joe Gallen believes Pompey have turned a corner following Tuesday’s 4-1 victory over Southend.

And with Barton deciding to rearrange the encounter for a later date, that might also be a verdict shared by those at the Highbury Stadium – and perhaps even the rest of the teams in League One.