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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Portsmouth's playoff bid could receive another blow

Oxford can avoid defeat under new boss Karl Robinson

Oxford boss Karl Robinson (pictured when in charge at Charlton)
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A series of poor home results have undermined Portsmouth's Sky Bet League One playoff push and another setback is on the cards against Oxford, who look value to avoid defeat on the south coast.

Pompey are the second-best supported team in third tier - averaging in excess of 17,000 per home game - and were giving their supporters plenty to shout about between August and the end of December, winning nine of 13 league games.

However, they have taken just two points from six home matches in 2018 and make little appeal at odds-on to defeat an Oxford side preparing for their first match under new manager Karl Robinson.

There is work to do for Robinson, who may need to pick up two more wins to steer his new charges to League One safety.

But he inherits a group of players, who will be feeling much more confident after signing off under caretaker-manager Derek Fazackerley with an impressive 2-1 victory at home to promotion-chasing Peterborough last Saturday.

Oxford had struggled for results during Fazackerley's tenure, losing four of seven league games, but performances were steadily improving and there was nothing fortunate about the win over Posh, who had won their previous two matches under Steve Evans.

Under their last permanent manager, Pep Clotet, Oxford had gained a reputation as a tidy passing team with a soft centre.

But the spine of the team has been strengthened by the January arrival of centre-back Rob Dickie and midfielder Cameron Brannagan and they no longer look like a side in serious danger of getting dragged into the relegation scrap.

Portsmouth are looking up as they try to force themselves back into playoff contention and manager Kenny Jackett has been heartened by the end of captain Nathan Thompson's four-match ban and the return from injury of winger Gareth Evans.

However, last Saturday's 2-0 win at Oldham was only Portsmouth's third victory in 12 league games this year - all of them coming away from home.

Pompey can ill-afford many more mistakes if they are to make the top six but they are likely to discover that Oxford are a tough nut to crack. 

Oxford +0.5 on Asian handicap
1pt 20-19 188bet

Match odds

Sky Bet League One standings

Team news
Gareth Evans (hamstring) is back in contention and Nathan Thompson has completed a four-game ban. Oli Hawkins (hamstring) and Stuart O'Keefe (groin) are out.

International call ups have ruled out Gino Van Kessel (Curacao), Isaac Buckley-Ricketts (England Under-20s) and Canice Carroll (Ireland Under-19s).

Key stat
Portsmouth have not won any of their last seven home matches.

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Pompey make little appeal at odds-on to defeat an Oxford side preparing for their first match under new manager Karl Robinson
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