Just think – by 5pm tomorrow we could be safe…
This isn’t going to be a massive update for Pompey, if truth be told, probably because it doesn’t really need to be.
Though once you realise you’ve spent ten minutes reading this site already, you’ll end up hating me even more than usual.
We all know what’s at stake, and I think every member of the squad knows it as much as anyone.
For those just awaken from a coma, the upshot is simple – avoid defeat in either one of the next two games, and we’re good for next season.
Even if Pompey beat us, Rochdale and Northampton still have to win both of their games. If they don’t, that’s it.
And even if they do, if we lose both fixtures by a single goal, and they both win by the same margin, that’s it.
Although in that scenario that would be a bit too tight for comfort.
So a lot is in our favour tomorrow, and indeed Sunday week if we need it. Simply put – we don’t need to panic.
True, Pompey are in the playoff positions (and try saying that without your teeth in) but they’ve been a bit ordinary.
We must treat them as anything but ordinary, of course, yet tomorrow is winnable for us.
Remember that this is a Portsmouth side that lost 3-1 to Swindon not so long ago, so we shouldn’t be scared of them.
And I think that’s the mentality we should go out with from the off tomorrow. Just go for the three points, and see what happens.
That’s how we’ve approached most games this month, and it’s served us well.
Rob Tuvey has said as much in his pre-game OS interview, and I hope our defence got chewed out after Tuesday.
I did like the headline though :
“We want to survive – and put down a marker for next season”.
I sodding hope we want to survive. Unless our squad have decided they want to go to Stevenage and Barrow next season.
Now the dust has settled over Tuesday, the more I think about that the more I believe it was the pivotal game.
True, it’s not yet done and dusted, and there’s always the possibility of a late – and ugly – twist in this strangest of seasons.
But imagine if you’re Rochdale (especially) or Northampton right now. In the case of the former, you were seconds away from winning a must-win game, and you let it slip right at the death.
That’s tough to take, no matter how resilient you are.
If you cast your mind back to the amount of games where we’ve let it slip after going ahead, you’ll know how it plays with your mind.
Do it at the business end of the season, and you can magnify that feeling by a zillion.
If Rochdale are 1-0 up against Donny tomorrow, and they’re not putting the game to bed, doubts will set in…
As for Northampton, I’m sure they must love having to beat both Blackpool and Sunderland, and make up a sizeable goal difference in the process.
I’ll be honest here – I’ve pretty much written the Cobblers off in the push for survival, and judging by their forum their fans are doing likewise.
Interestingly enough, so are Dale supporters. We can hope they’re both right.
But really, we don’t need to think about them – we merely need to concentrate on ourselves for the final 180 minutes of football this season.
While tomorrow will undoubtedly be nervy, the buildup to Pompey feels different than Tuesday.
Some serious anxiety hit everyone as early as Monday, and it got to the stage where you almost dreaded the game started.
Although I reserve the right to change my mind tomorrow, I haven’t had that sense for Portsmouth.
It’s almost like I just want the whole thing out of the way now.
I get the feeling the players do as well, because as said on here quite a few times recently – they want to stay up as much as anyone.
If we lose and Dale/Northampton win, then it makes next week pant soiling. But we’ll deal with that if we have to.
We get another bite of the cherry in that scenario, and the same rules apply then as they do now.
Tomorrow is the latest Most Important Game Of The Season (TM), but by sundown tomorrow, it might be our last one that has meaning.
That’s our aim, and it’s certainly in our own hands.
Finally, while writing this I note that the Plough Lane test event is going to be against Liverpool u23s.
While I don’t doubt some will prefer we should have told them to piss off over the whole ESL crap, this is undeniably a decent coup.
I don’t think we ever beat Liverpool at OPL, so I’ll take any opportunity to right that wrong.
Whoever we play doesn’t matter, because it’s not going to be about the opponents.
It could have been a London Senior Cup tie, although Redbridge have pulled out, and I expect us vs a Premier League side was always the plan.
Surprised it wasn’t Palace though, although maybe we were trying to avoid the obvious symmetry.
Get this weekend tied up and we can start not only looking forward to next season, but the first time fans have been inside Plough Lane since the 1990s.
One final thing about this test event though – who will Chris Slavin be supporting…?