And although some might fear a drop down the tiers will mean a drop in entertainment level, fear not. Portsmouth versus Oxford United is an 1980s redux humdinger – down the years they have managed some extraordinary contests, notably an insane 5-5 draw in the nineties. And we’re confident there will be goals aplenty.
That is largely due to Oxford be as porous at the back as a colander. This lot conceded seven at home against Wigan before Christmas and have kept a clean sheet only twice in 15 since. The +105 that William Hill offer about over 2.5 goals is very solid.
In mitigation their best player and captain, defender Cutis Nelson, is almost certainly out for the season, leaving them with an error-prone John Mousinho as centre-half. They also haven’t had a manager since a 2-1 home reverse against Bury on January 20.
If you’re beginning to get the impression this club is a little careless, you would be right. We backed them at +2000 for relegation when they were challenging for the play-offs because we could see the light at the end of the tunnel – it was an express train.
And although they are in the mire with only five points separating them from Northampton Town in the last relegation spot, we concede that the gamble might fall short.
This is partly to a surprise win over Peterborough United last time out and largely due to, finally, appointing a manager. Karl Robinson has arrived from Charlton Athletic. It’s an excellent appointment and one wonders precisely what he’s doing there. He may feel the same in a few months.
Robinson might not have time to impose his shrewd skills on a squad desperately low on confidence. And so Pompey are a strong pick to take the three points at -120 with William Hill and other green listed bookmakers again. His rbief has been a watching one since being confirmed on Thursday.
Portsmouth are still in the hunt for a play-off spot. From November to the December they hit a purple patch in all competitions which looked like it was going to carry them through to a promotion, winning nine from 11.
But it’s only three wins in their last 11 now. They could do with a fillip and Oxford could be turning up just at the right time for them. Brett Pitman, their 17-goal striker, will be licking his lips at the prospect of facing Oxford’s shaky backline.