Last chance for Pompey’s push

Portsmouth v Preston – Fratton Park – Saturday, 3.00pm.

One week ago it seemed Portsmouth’s push for the play-offs was alive and kicking.

Now seven days later, those ambitions are close to a post-mortem.

Last weekend’s 2-0 defeat away to Reading was a huge kick in the teeth to Steve Cotterill’s side, who after the Royals’ win against Preston on Tuesday are now nine points off the top-six.

So it’s fitting now that Preston would be the visitors to Fratton Park for Pompey’s first home game in a month.

Phil Brown’s relegation threatened Lilywhites have been on a mini revival of late, having won their previous three matches before defeat at the Madejski.

That run of wins includes the scalp of high-flying Swansea, so a trip to the South Coast shouldn’t scare Brown’s men, despite Pompey being unbeaten at home in six matches.

Nine points off safety; it will take a miracle for the ex-Hull City boss to drag his side clear of demotion to League One.

If they are going to perform the spectacular, much will rely on the form of striker Iain Hume who has netted four times in his last four matches.

Opposite Hume in the Portsmouth attack will be a familiar face to the Lancashire club, David Nugent is still held in high regard by the Preston faithful after a two-year spell at the club which brought 33 goals.

For Pompey, Cotterill knows its win or bust for his club’s hopes of making an instant return to the top-flight as defeat or even a draw would seemingly condemn them to another season in the second tier.

Win though and they could go as high as tenth if results go their way, meaning there will still be everything to play for over the remaining six matches.

There will be just one chance from that defeat to Reading, Ricardo Rocha’s red card means he will serve a suspension, paving the way for South African defender Aaron Mokoena to return at centre-back.

Striker Danny Webber will take his place amongst the substitutes again as he steps up his return from a serious cruciate ligament injury.

For Preston, David Gray remains out whilst there are question marks over the fitness of Leon Cort, Chris Brown and Leon Clarke.

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