The much-vaunted reward up for grabs as Portsmouth and Hull City go toe to toe

It’s a berth of traditional significance come the final reckoning.

Thursday, 17th December 2020, 6:30 pm
Updated Saturday, 19th December 2020, 4:17 pm

And tomorrow evening we will know who could have its possession as the two League One contenders fight for ownership.

To the winner goes the spoils, and the prize on offer at the KCOM Stadium will be top spot in League One at Christmas, as Pompey and Hull meet.

For that to be certain Doncaster will need to drop points as they face Burton on Saturday before tackling Shrewsbury in one of their games in hand on Tuesday.

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Kenny Jackett and his men have been doing their best to play down the value of moving to the top of the third tier pile for December 25, preferring to focus on the three points up for grabs.

There’s little doubt, however, there’s psychological value to the status of hitting the front of the pack as we near the half-way point of the campaign.

That was clear enough on Tuesday night, as Pompey missed out on the opportunity to go top against Fleetwood - instead moving into the automatic promotion berths for the first time in 22 months.

Matt Clarke was on the scoresheet at Rochdale in 2018 as Pompey moved to the top of League One. Photo by Joe Pepler/Digital South.

There was disappointment in the home dressing room at that outcome, but the players consoled themselves with the reality they could put that right against Grant McCann’s side - and in front of a wider audience in front of the Sky cameras,

If Pompey were to pick up the three points required to usurp Hull it would end a 23-month absence from the League One summit.

The Blues’ led the way at the turn of 2019, but, after FA Cup commitments against QPR, were knocked off their perch by Luton with the Hatters consequently beating Kenny Jackett’s men 3-2 at Kenilworth Road three days later.

That meant the Blues’ three-and-a-half month stay there came to a close, a position they were never to return to as they eventually lost out to Sunderland in the play-offs and Mick Harford’s side took the title after Nathan Jones’ exit.

Pompey were last top of League One in January 2019 - until Luton knocked them off their perch. Photo by Joe Pepler/Digital South.

Pompey’s demise goes against the general pattern of sides top at Christmas usually going on to reach the Championship.

In the last 10 years that’s not quite been the case, however, with the Blues one of four sides not to see through the job.

Sheffield United finished as low as fifth in 2012 before failing in the play-offs, with Leyton Orient (2013) and Scunthorpe (2016) the others to falter after enjoying their Christmas turkey while looking down on their rivals.

The last time Pompey moved to the top of the League One pile was on September 29, 2018 with a 3-1 win at Rochdale – Matt Clarke, Jamal Lowe and Brett Pitman were the scorers.

Now we wait to see what unfolds as the current League One heavy hitters go toe to toe for a reward which is significant - even if the main protagonists won’t admit it…

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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