The Football League play-offs officially begin tonight so get ready for two and a half weeks of excitement and nail biting drama!
Tonight’s game sees Portsmouth welcome Plymouth to Fratton Park as both sides seek the promised land of League One.
Despite losing their final game of the season to champions Northampton, Paul Cook’s Portsmouth side come into the play-offs on a reasonable run of form.
Pompey won six of their last nine league games and racked up impressive victories over Wimbledon and Hartlepool along the way.
They did however fall to a disappointing defeat at home to tonight’s opponents in mid April.
Plymouth were near the top of the table for a lot of the season but have had to settle for the play-offs.
Derek Adams’ side will be high on confidence after winning their final game of the season 5-0 at home to Hartlepool and the Pilgrims are also unlikely to be fazed by the away trip having won over half of their away games this season.
Plymouth’s recent form is a little patchy as they have lost four of their last ten games, including a very concerning loss at home to already relegated Dagenham and Redbridge.
Porstmouth’s Kieron Freeman is ruled out of the match through suspension after being set off on the final day of the season, whilst Adam Webster is likely to miss out through injury.
Paul Cook is however expected to welcome back Kyle Bennett and Marc McNulty from injuries.
Plymouth meanwhile are expected to welcome Carl McHugh back from a hamstring problem, but striker Reuben Reid is an injury doubt.
It remains to be seen how many of the seven changes Adam’s will reverse from Saturday’s emphatic victory.
What the manager’s have had to say
Cook has told his players to revel in the excitement of the play offs and enjoy playing in big game’s like tonight.
He told Portsmouth’s official club website, “It’s a time to celebrate that we’re in the play-offs and now we’ll be trying to get to Wembley.
“Games will swing on moments of magic or refereeing decisions, but the more you get involved with these big matches, the more you want to experience them.
“We’ve had fantastic occasions here against Derby, Ipswich and Bournemouth and we’ve beaten a lot of sides away from home, so I’m not so sure that big games are a problem for us.
“We put a brand new squad together very quickly last summer and nobody said it would be easy, but the target at a place like this will always be promotion.
“The best teams are the ones that finish at the top and although we weren’t good enough to finish in the automatic places, our hunger has been there since day one.
“The club’s in a great position off the pitch, but the most important thing going forward is that we get stronger and stronger.”
Meanwhile Adams admitted that he has known what his starting 11 will be for some time.
“I’ve already decided my team,” said the 40-year-old. “I’d already picked my team before Saturday’s
game against Hartlepool.
“I’m not going to mention who’s in or out. I think that would be very naïve of me to say anything like that. It’s up to everybody to find out when we get to Thursday night and the team lines go in. We won’t allow it to get out quickly, I’ll tell you that!”