Oxford United meet Portsmouth in the second leg of the League One play-off semi-final on Monday evening at the Kassam Stadium with a 5 pm kick off.
The match is on a knife-edge after these sides played out a 1-1 draw at Fratton Park on Friday.
Portsmouth’s wait for a first victory in the playoffs continues. The Hampshire side have now gone seven play-off matches without a win.
On Friday, Republic of Ireland international Ronan Curtis grabbed his 14th goal of the season, only for Oxford’s Marcus Browne to pounce two minutes before half-time to draw the sides level.
Despite Pompey having two strong penalty appeals turned down after Oxford’s Rob Dickie first appeared to handle the ball, before later dragging Christian Burgess down to the ground, overall a draw was a fair result which leaves Monday’s encounter finely poised.
The U’s will go into Monday’s second leg quietly confident after holding one of the big names in League One Pompey on Friday. They will be lifted by their impressive run of form at the Kassam, which has seen Oxford win four of their last five games, with their only defeat against Sunderland.
Pompey’s away form is a slight concern, having suffered three successive defeats. However, in their past five games on the road they have managed two victories against Tranmere and Lincoln.
The home side have also failed to score at home only three times this season and have hit the back of the net in their last three games at the Kassam.
It isn’t just their firepower upfront that is impressive for the U’s, they have a measly defence which has so far kept a notable clean sheet on 15 occasions.
In the head to head between the two sides there is nothing to choose between them with both sides gaining the bragging rights on three occasions with four draws in their last ten meetings.
Karl Robinson will be looking to his double act of Matty Taylor(13) and James Henry(12), who have hit a combined total of 25 goals between them this season to continue their goal-scoring form.
Taylor is on fire at the moment having scored six goals in his last five appearances, with Henry netting twice in his last four matches.
Kenny Jacket’s side have really struggled to score goals this season, with Curtis the only player to get into double figures with 11 to his name so far.
Both sides are expected to be unchanged.
Second leg’s of playoff games are normally cagey affairs, and I feel this will pan out the same way. However, I fancy Oxford to eventually get the better of Portsmouth 2-0 on the night and book their place in the League One Play-Off final at Wembley on Monday 13th July.
Match Preview written by Peter Moore.