When Portsmouth beat Wimbledon 2-1 on New Years Day the result put them five points ahead of Luton at the top of League One, and eleven points ahead of Charlton.
They then embarked on a run of eight games without a win - three defeats in January and five draws in February. Their 0-0 draw with Barnsley on February 23rd left them down in 4th place - now 9 points behind Luton and only 3 ahead of Charlton. Their meagre 5 points during that period meant that they were by far the worst performing team of the top seven and they were completely outpaced by Luton (19) and Barnsley (21). Even stumbling Peterborough managed 8, while Charlton accumulated 13. It was beginning to look as if Pompey were the most likely club to miss out on the play-offs.
Their only successes had been in cup competitions. They won at Norwich in the FA Cup before succumbing to QPR in a 4th round replay and they saw off Southend and Bury in The Checkatrade Trophy to ensure themselves an outing to Wembley later in the month where they will meet Sunderland.
Their first fixture of March brought a welcome change of fortune as they thrashed Bradford City last weekend 5-1. Even so, they are still the poorest performing team of all the challengers and Bradford is a club in some turmoil, so we may not need to read too much into the result.
Charlton's recent record at Fratton Park (7 wins out of 10) is phenomenal but we have lost our last three home games against Portsmouth. They spoiled our 25-years-back-at-The-Valley celebrations in December 2017 courtesy of a Josh Magennis own goal, and a few weeks previously they had prevailed by the same score in the Checkatrade. In September 2006 it was a goal from Lomano Tresor Lua Lua that stole the points in a game mostly memorable for the first and last appearance for Charlton of the legendary Omar Pouso.
The other five teams in the promotion race have relatively easy games on Saturday and may well have all pocketed three points before Charlton and Portsmouth kick off at 5.30pm. Charlton's performance at Doncaster was encouraging but, even so, they were only a few (correctly ruled) offside inches away from losing the game in the very last minute. Many fans would be prepared to see Lyle Taylor go goalless for the next two games in exchange for him avoiding a yellow card, but someone else is going to need to step up. How about Patrick Bauer from a corner?