Oxford United boss Karl Robinson has stated that there is a good level of mutual respect between the U’s and their Portsmouth counterparts, with the former MK Dons man telling the Oxford Mail that all of it goes out the window once tonight’s game kicks off.
This evening’s fixture pits together two of the season’s early play-off contenders, with Pompey currently sitting in fifth place, just four points ahead of their hosts who have a game in hand on the South Coast outfit.
Of course the two sides know each other very well, with the two having gone head to head six times since October 2019, including in the play-offs last season as the U’s emerged victorious on penalties.
Given the current situation that both teams find themselves in and the enormity of tonight’s game, it was perhaps unsurprising to hear Robinson speak of his respect for his side’s opponents whilst also touching on the importance of his players putting in a good performance:
“There’s immense respect between the two teams – I don’t think there’s ever been a bad word spoken.
“You always know how hard you have to fight to beat them and how well you’re going to have to play.
“With Portsmouth it’s not just about effort, it’s about 100 per cent attention to detail.
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“The second you get it wrong, they have the players capable of beating any team in the league.
“The front four is as good as it gets and you also have to work hard to score against them.
“You know you’re coming up against a very balanced team.”
A win for Oxford at the Kassam could see them move level with Sunderland in sixth place if other results go their way during this round of fixtures, whilst a win on the road for Pompey could potentially see them leapfrog Doncaster Rovers into fourth place.
Oxford are obviously an opponent that Pompey know a lot about with the two teams having played each other so frequently, however I believe they could have their work cut out tonight.
The U’s are on a good run of form heading into tonight’s game whilst Portsmouth have struggled in their last two league outings, falling to back to back defeats against Bristol Rovers and Blackpool respectively.
As Robinson rightly mentions, Pompey have a front four who can do damage to most teams in the division, and they will have to be chief protagonists in tonight’s game if the away side are to claim anything from their trip to the Kassam.
I think it will be another hard fought and cagey game between these two sides and for that reason I feel like it’ll be another draw between them, similar to the manner of the game between the two back in November.