We always win at Portsmouth

Well, nearly always.

There is no other football ground where we have such a good recent record. We have won five of our last six games at Fratton Park. Just consider some of the glorious names who have supplied the winning goals down there over the last two decades - Leaburn, Salako, Bartlett, Rommedahl and the glorious Amdy Faye. The stage is surely now set for one of the new generation to join those legends. A win for Charlton would virtually extinguish Portsmouth's play-off aspirations and leave the fight for two places between the three of Plymouth, Scunthorpe and ourselves.

Portsmouth have won more games (19) this season than any other team apart from the top four but their record of 18 defeats is one of the worst in the division and is two more than Rochdale. Their goal difference of +1 is the poorest of the five clubs chasing the two play-off places. They have won their last two home games (3-0 v Oxford and impressively 2-1 v Wigan) but Gillingham, Blackpool and Blackburn all took three points from Fratton Park recently and Doncaster gained a 2-2 draw. Pompey are very dependent for goals on Brett Pitman who has 22 this season but who failed to beat Ben Amos from the penalty spot at The Valley in December.

Lee Bowyer was bold in his team selection for the win at Shrewsbury on Tuesday evening, particularly in deciding to leave recent star Ben Reeves on the bench. The return to the starting line up of Tariqe Fosu at Shrewsbury was also significant. Charlton's record of only 4 wins in 17 games without him is in stark contrast to the 13 wins out of 26 when he has been playing from the start. He wasn't in the line up when Portsmouth beat us 1-0 last December and he could be the crucial difference this time.

Scunthorpe host Walsall on Saturday and Plymouth go to Northampton. We would expect them both to win so, even if we gain a creditable draw, we might well be out of the play-off spots by Saturday evening. Plymouth then go to Rochdale on Tuesday 24th. The good news is that the game they will both then have in hand over Charlton is against each other on May 1st. We may well be watching the score closely to see if our season will still be alive when we go up to Rochdale on May 5th.