Why Portsmouth faithful will take satisfaction from Bolton ticket sales ahead of Oxford United play-off final

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Pompey and Bolton fans have been engaging in a spot of social media swordplay in recents weeks as supporters from both sides debate who's the better team.

Those members of the Fratton faithful who have engaged can rightly point to the fact that it was their side, not Wanderers, who secured the 2023-24 League One title and with it promotion as Ian Evatt’s side currently navigate their way through the play-offs - with no guarantee of a place in next season’s Championship.

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Four points from a possible six against Bolton this term also backs up the Pompey fans’ argument. Yet that hasn’t stopped some Trotters supporters claiming they have the better side - a standpoint that was prevalent after the two sides drew 1-1 at the Toughsheet Community Stadium back in April.

That stalemate forced the Blues to delay their promotion party. Although, there was no evidence of regret when a return to the Championship was confirmed just days later following victory against Barnsley at Fratton Park - an occasion that warranted a pitch invasion!

Those scenes were replicated at Bolton last week when Evatt & Co secured their place in the League One play-off final against Oxford by seeing off the challenge of Barnsley.

And as both Trotters and U’s fans go through the stresses of that important Wembley occasion tomorrow (4.15pm kick-off), Pompey supporters will be relaxed knowing that they’ve more ammunition if their rivals want to continue the lively debate!

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Indeed, with 24 hours to go until kick-off, Bolton are reporting that they’ve sold in excess of 30,000 tickets for the game against Oxford. That’s a similar figure to the one being reported by the U’s - but it’s still some way short of the number of Pompey fans who accompanied the Blues to Wembley in 2019 for the EFL Trophy final against Sunderland

On that day, more than 40,000 members of the Fratton faithful descended on the capital. It’s a number that was matched by the Black Cats - and ensured a crowd of 85,021 was present as Kenny Jackett’s side secured victory on penalties

That figure remains the trophy’s highest-ever attendance total, with last year’s Bolton v Plymouth final attracting a crowd of 79,389 - of which 34,000 were Wanderers supporters.

Of course, Pompey’s FA Cup final win against Cardiff in 2008 still boasts the highest-ever sporting crowd to attend the new Wembley, with 89,874 fans present that day to see Kanu secure victory for the Blues.

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What an occasion that proved to be, providing fans with some life-long memories. Yet, no doubt, the discourse will continue as both sets of proud fans stand their ground!

That should make for some potentially interesting showdowns in next year’s Championship. Although there’s also no denying who Blues fans want to win on Saturday - Oxford!

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