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Kick off 17:30 (UK)

03 July 2020 Venue Fratton Park Attendance

Kick off 17:30 (UK)

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English Football League - League One

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Match Previews

Play-Off Preview: Pompey v Oxford

Everything you need to know about League One contest

3 July 2020

Pompey v Oxford

It has been 115 days since Fratton Park last hosted a competitive game of football.

Fleetwood left the south coast with a point following a 2-2 draw all the way back in March – a result that ultimately ensured both sides would finish in the top six.

The wait was then on to see how League One clubs would choose to conclude the campaign, with a decision finally made to begin the play-offs at the start of July.

There was little to separate the four sides that are now competing for the third and final spot in next season’s Championship.

The Blues and Oxford were locked together on 60 points, with the latter were one place higher because of their superior goal difference.

It means that the first leg this evening takes place on Pompey’s patch, albeit behind closed doors because of the continuing threat of Covid-19.

The players will have to make do without the usual cacophony generated by a passionate Fratton faithful, although there will be more than 1,000 supporters represented by cardboard cut-outs.

There have been a few rule alterations, including teams allowed to make five substitutions from a list of nine, but these can only take place in three groups, not including any made at the break.

It is also worth remembering that the away goals rule is not used in the play-offs – if the aggregate scores are level after Monday’s match, extra-time and, if required, penalties will be used.

The sides drew 1-1 when they met at Fratton Park during the regular season, with Gareth Evans’ penalty cancelled out by a late Matty Taylor leveller for Karl Robinson’s men.

Pompey have no injury concerns, while there were no positive results in the latest round of Covid-19 testing.

Reeco Hackett-Fairchild had been missing after collecting a knock in training, but he has since recovered and is available for selection.

The Oxford squad has also been given a clean bill of health, although loanee Nathan Holland previously returned to West Ham.

Read the thoughts of Kenny Jackett, Lee Brown, Ellis Harrison and Tom Naylor and watch a chat with John Marquis below.

Pompey: 25 wins
Oxford: 22 wins
19 draws

At Fratton Park
Pompey: 17 wins
Oxford: 4 wins
10 draws

Referee: Gavin Ward
Assistants: Nigel Lugg and Adrian Waters
Fourth Official: Charles Breakspear

Domestic iFollow subscribers can listen to live commentary from Andrew Moon and Guy Whittingham by signing into their account and visiting the match centre from 5pm this evening.

Please note that there is no live iFollow video coverage of play-off games, although audio commentary will be available.

The match has been selected live broadcast on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football, while supporters outside the UK should check local listings to see if the game is being televised in their region. Click here for a list of international EFL broadcasters.

Click here for more information about using iFollow on a matchday and click here for information on downloading the app, so you can access content on your mobile device.

We will have updates throughout the game on Twitter and the match centre. You can also see behind-the-scenes content on our Instagram story.

There will be post-match reaction on the website, iFollow and our official YouTube channel, with highlights to follow on Saturday.

Local listeners can hear commentary by tuning in to either Express FM or BBC Radio Solent.

Pompey are the 6/5 favourites to take a lead into the second, while the visitors can be backed at 23/10.

Remember to visit to earn money for the club when you place a bet. Please gamble responsibly.

Pompey v Oxford (5.30pm)
Fleetwood v Wycombe (7.30pm)

Oxford v Pompey (5pm)
Wycombe v Fleetwood (7.30pm)



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Match Reports

Pompey 1 Oxford 1

Curtis on target in Fratton stalemate

3 July 2020

Ronan Curtis scores for Pompey against Oxford
Photo: Joe Pepler/PinPep

Pompey’s play-off contest with Oxford is finely balanced after the sides drew 1-1 in the first leg at Fratton Park.

The hosts made the stronger start and deservedly took the lead through a low finish from Ronan Curtis.

But Marcus Browne grabbed a United leveller just before the interval and neither side were able to find a winner in the second half.

Kenny Jackett made four changes from the side that drew with Fleetwood all the way back in March.

Lee Brown wore the captain’s armband, with regular skipper Tom Naylor named on an extended nine-man bench.

There were also returns for Christian Burgess, Marcus Harness and a fit-again Bryn Morris, as James Bolton, Ryan Williams and Steve Seddon made way.

A blustery Fratton Park was virtually empty, with the Covid-19 pandemic necessitating games taking place behind closed doors.

But there were still more than 1,000 fans present in the form of cardboard cut-outs, with 2003 promotion hero Svetoslav Todorov, chairman Michael Eisner and the late John Jenkins MBE among them.

Before kick-off, there was a minute of applause to celebrate the NHS and other key workers, while all players then took the knee in a powerful statement against racism.

The hosts controlled possession for much of the first half and Ellis Harrison had an early header blocked from a corner.

And the deadlock was almost broken moments later, courtesy of a drilled Curtis effort that struck the base of the post.

Both sides were clearly up for the challenge, with several meaty challenge flying in and Oxford boss Karl Robinson constantly in the ear of a beleaguered fourth official.

Neither keeper was really being put to the test and a Harness curler was blocked, while it took a diving Josh Ruffels header to deal with one Curtis delivery.

After a brief break for drinks, Cameron Brannagan and Cameron McGeehan were both booked following a spat in the middle of the pitch.

Burgess then thought he should have won a penalty after appearing to be tugged back by Rob Dickie, but appeals were dismissed by referee Gavin Ward.

Pompey’s pressure did pay off on 32 minutes, though, as CURTIS advanced and hit a low shot that crept past former Fratton stopper Simon Eastwood and nestled in the net.

That seemed to spark the visitors into life and Browne dragged an effort past the post, although Alex Bass appeared to have it covered.

The Blues could not keep their opponents at bay, though, and Browne did well to burst forward and find the net.

But Pompey did finish the half with a flourish and visiting players had to fling themselves in front of a flurry of shots in quick succession.

Half Time: Pompey 1 Oxford 1

There was a slow start to the second period in terms of chances, although Harrison felt a challenge on him inside the box warranted a penalty.

Jackett tried to liven up proceedings with a double switch just past the hour mark, as Ross McCrorie and Andy Cannon made way for Bolton and Williams.

But it was Oxford who were next to have a shot, albeit a long-range James Henry attempt that Bass held comfortably.

Williams soon showed some neat trickery, although his low cross was cut out before it could reach Harrison in the centre.

The Blues then delivered a couple of fine corners – first from Brown and then Harness – that were just about dealt with.

Jackett made his third change of the evening on 73 minutes and it was a straight substitution up front, as Harrison made way for John Marquis.

The hosts were starting to build some momentum and Brown’s effort was deflected into the side netting, while the skipper then did well to halt Browne’s break at the other end.

And Burgess went close to restoring the lead when he met Brown’s free-kick, only for Eastwood to get down and make the save.

Curtis was furious not to be awarded a late penalty after going down under a challenge from Dan Agyei, but again Ward said no.

Pompey pushed forward in search of a lead to take to the Kassam Stadium on Monday, but had to settle for a draw.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Bass; McCrorie (Bolton 62), Burgess, Raggett, Brown (c); McGeehan, Morris; Harness, Cannon (Williams 62), Curtis; Harrison (Marquis 73)
Goals: Curtis 32
Booked: McGeehan
Subs not used: MacGillivray, Downing, Seddon, Naylor, Evans, Hawkins

Oxford (4-1-4-1): Eastwood; Long, Dickie (c), Moore, Ruffels; Gorrin; Henry, Woodburn (Sykes 55), Brannagan (Forde 81), Browne (Agyei 81); Taylor (Mackie 73)
Goals: Browne 43
Booked: Brannagan, Gorrin
Subs not used: Stevens, Atkinson, Mousinho, Kelly, Hanson

Referee: Gavin Ward

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