We turn our focus to the weekend's action with a full and in-depth preview of Portsmouth's visit to The Northern Gas and Power Stadium.
Hartlepool United v Portsmouth
Sky Bet League Two
Saturday 1st April 2017
After three seasons in the EFL’s basement division, Portsmouth have put themselves in with a great chance of finally beginning their journey back towards former glories.
The South Coast outfit are third and have moved six points clear of fourth-placed Stevenage as the race for promotion from League Two hots up and they head to the North-East having won four of their last five.
Paul Cook will be hoping that the 3-0 reverse at in-form Stevenage two weeks ago was a one-off and he will be asking his side to put that behind them as they get back on the road this weekend.
After this weekend, Pompey will be rubbing their hands at a run of three games in four on home soil and they will hope to emerge from that sequence with at least one foot in League One.
Christian Burgess is likely to return to the heart of the Portsmouth back four this weekend after missing his first league game of the season last weekend.
The former Pools loan star was forced to watch Pompey’s 2-1 win over Newport County from the stand after being sent-off for two yellow cards in their previous week’s encounter with Stevenage.
Now 25, Burgess showed his class during a season-long stint at Pools in 2013/14 when then boss Colin Cooper borrowed him from Middlesbrough and he tried to sign him permanently before he opted for a move to Peterborough United at the end of that season.
He’s been an ever-present this season at the heart of a defence which has conceded fewer goals than anybody in the division and he’ll be keen to impress on his return to the line-up against Pools this weekend.
Saturday 17th December 2016
Sky Bet League Two
Portsmouth: Forde, Stevens, Clarke, Burgess, Rose (Hunt 89), Baker, Doyle, Roberts (Naismith 68), Bennett (Chaplin 68), Evans, Smith.
Subs not used: O’Brien, Davies, Lalkovic, Linganzi.
Pools: Carson, Donnelly, Bates, Harrison, Carroll, Featherstone, Hawkins, Laurent, Alessandra (Amond 89), Oates (Deverdics 73), Paynter (Nsiala 89).
Subs not used: Bartlett, Pollock, Walker, Woods
Head To Head
Saturday’s game will be only the 14th competitive meeting between the two clubs and Pools have won just once – a 3-1 triumph at Fratton Park back in January 2013.
Bizarrely, it’s finished goalless on three of the last four occasions that Pompey have visited The Vic and it’s a fixture that Pools have struggled to find the net in – they’ve failed to score in each of the last eight meetings since that 2013 win.
Indeed, Pools have only ever scored one goal against Portsmouth on home territory – and that came in the very first meeting back in August 1978 courtesy of an Ian Crumplin strike during a 1-1 draw.
Mark Brown is on the whistle for this weekend’s game in what his eighth appointment in charge of a Pools game over the years.
His most recent visit to The Vic came last January when he oversaw our 1-0 win over Wycombe Wanderers, while he was also here when we came from two goals down to salvage a point against Newport County in November 2014.
Brown’s most recent outing came at Chesterfield’s Proact Stadium last weekend when he watched Rochdale claim a 3-1 victory.
Pools legend Brian Honour will be back alongside Mark Simpson for full live commentary of Saturday’s game on Pools PlayerHD from 2.50pm.
Fans all over the world can access the live broadcast so if you can’t get along to the game then make sure to join the lads on Pools PlayerHD to keep up to date.
Click here now for more information on joining Pools PlayerHD.
All tickets for the Smith and Graham Away Stand have sold out for this fixture.
Tickets for all home areas of the ground for Saturday’s game remain on sale from the Club’s Ticket Office up to kick-off.
Two cash-only Matchday Ticket Offices will be open – one is situated on the Clarence Road side of the Prostate Cancer UK Stand and the other is on the Niramax Stand. These will open at 1.15pm and remain open until kick-off.
Fans wishing to make card purchases of tickets must report to the main Ticket Office.
Portsmouth have been installed as big 8/15 favourites to claim three points on Saturday with Pools rated an 11/2 shot for the win and a draw priced at 3/1 with our friends at Sky Bet.