Portsmouth head to Sunderland as League One's elite road warriors – but Fratton Park form let Blues down
Just a week after the longest away trip of the season, members of the Fratton faithful are preparing to do it all over again.
The flights are being booked, hotel websites scanned – Pompey are heading back to Sunderland.
The two sides who once occupied the automatic promotion places at the same time earlier in the season will now do battle in a League One play-off semi-final.
The Blues firstly head to the Stadium of Light on Saturday, before the return leg takes place at Fratton Park on Thursday, May 16.
Kenny Jackett’s men and the Black Cats couldn’t be separated when they met on Wearside on April 27 in a 1-1 draw.
And a similar result would be massive ahead of the white-hot atmosphere expected at Fratton Park for the return fixture.
It’s another tough assignment, I know!
But the Blues head north boasting the best away record by some distance in League One this term.
Jackett’s road warriors finished with 45 points from their away games, setting a club record of 13 victories along the way.
That’s six more points than Sunderland, who finished second in the away table with 39 points along with champions Luton.
Barnsley, who grabbed the other automatic promotion spot, amassed 38 points on the road.
Ultimately, it was Pompey’s form at Fratton Park which let them down in the race for a top-two finish.
Despite being a fortress during so many seasons gone by, it didn’t quite prove that way this term.
The Blues could only accrue 43 points on their own patch, placing them sixth in the home table.
To be fair, it was a fairly freak scenario that both Luton (first, 55 points) and Barnsley (third, 53 points) did not taste defeat once at Kenilworth Road and Oakwell respectively.
And if it wasn’t for Conor Chaplin’s strike for Coventry, Sunderland (fifth, 46 points) would have also boasted that accolade.
Meanwhile, Charlton (second, 53 points) and Doncaster’s (fourth, 46 points) record on home turf was also better than Pompey’s.
Jackett pinpointed blurred responsibilities cost his side three points in the 3-2 loss to Peterborough and 1-1 draw with Accrington in the final two games of the season at PO4.
However, loses to Gillingham and Blackpool, as well as draws with the likes of Bristol Rovers, Wycombe and Shrewsbury were missed opportunities.
There are always ifs, buts and maybes with every side throughout a season.
No doubt Charlton and Sunderland fans can highlight games they should have won but didn’t.
But a total of 23 dropped points at Fratton Park let Pompey down in the automatic promotion race.