Two clubs return to League One action at Fratton Park on Saturday after embarrassing FA Cup outings last weekend.
There can be little doubt that Charlton's inability to see off eighth tier Cray Valley Paper Mills (CVPM) was by far the greater embarrassment and was one of the lowest points in the club's history. Throwing eleven players together on a pitch and expecting cohesion was an absurd plan even though those eleven players should have performed so much better individually.
However, Portsmouth also lost to non League opposition (albeit that Chesterfield play four tiers above CVPM) yet manager John Mousinho played their entire first team in the fixture. He made no changes at all to the starting eleven from their previous games against Reading and Carlisle. The defeat at Chesterfield ended Pompey's unbeaten start to the season but they have not lost a game in League One since March - twenty-five games ago - when Sheffield Wednesday won 1-0 at Fratton Park. They now have a three point lead at the top of the table and this season at home they have won six and drawn two with a goal difference of 12-4. They are not prolific goal scorers but they have the best defence in the league with only ten conceded in fifteen games.
To put this into context it means that they have made a better start than Chris Powell's Charlton in the 2011/12 season. That team topped the league with 34 points after fifteen games and had been beaten by Stevenage whereas Portsmouth have 35 points and an unblemished record. However, they will be mindful of the fact that in 2018/19 they also topped the table after fifteen games but eventually finished fourth and lost to Sunderland in the play-off semi-final.
In Colby Bishop Portsmouth have a striker in the Dion Charles / Alfie May mould who earned his spurs in non League football. After failing to break through at Notts County Colby spent four years in the National League North with Gloucester, Worcester, Boston and Leamington and was twenty three before Accrington Stanley took a punt on him. The step up three levels didn't faze him - he scored 32 in 109 games over three years before Portsmouth came in. Last season he scored 20 in 46 and he is well on the way to beating that this term, with 9 already. Mind you, Alfie scores a goal every 115 minutes and Colby only every 150 so there is no comparison really.
Form tends to go out of the window when Charlton travel to Fratton Park. It is hard to believe that there can be a better head to head record than our eleven wins in the last twelve visits, including all of the last six. Very few fans were pleased when Michael Appleton made eleven changes for the CPVM match but most would be delighted to see eleven more changes for this game. If we can't go down to Portsmouth full of hope, then where can we go ?