PIL­GRIMS SO CLOSE NOW

Ar­gyle pro­mo­tion ban­ner must stay furled for a lit­tle longer

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Gra­ham Ot­way

THERE was a half-hour hia­tus af­ter the fi­nal whis­tle blew at Frat­ton Park as the Ply­mouth play­ers and their large army of more than 2,500 trav­el­ling sup­port­ers waited with bated breath to hear the out­come of the game be­tween pro­mo­tion ri­vals Lu­ton and Ley­ton Ori­ent.

At one stage Ori­ent were lead­ing 2-1 and had Lu­ton not fought back to sal­vage a late point, Ply­mouth’s draw with Portsmouth would have been enough to earn them pro­mo­tion to League One.

Un­til the re­sult at Ke­nil­worth Road was con­firmed an of­fi­cial from the EFL had been keep­ing a spe­cial pro­mo­tion ban­ner on the side­line along with cham­pagne on ice to start the West Coun­try side’s cel­e­bra­tions.

How­ever, in the Ply­mouth dress­ing room man­ager Derek Adams was not tak­ing any­thing for granted.

In­stead the Scot was telling his play­ers how they would have to spend the next two days mix­ing rest and strong men­tal prepa­ra­tion ahead of their home game against New­port to­mor­row, where another point will be suf­fi­cient to take them into League One.

His ear­lier mes­sages had clearly got through to Gra­ham Carey whose de­fence-split­ting

pass in the 12th minute had launched the at­tack which saw Jake Jervis plant home the header which gave Ply­mouth the lead.

“New­port may be in dan­ger of los­ing their place in the league,” said Carey. “But they have had some good re­sults re­cently .

“They are fight­ing for their lives and we will be fight­ing for pro­mo­tion. We know we have got a job to do against them and we will be not be tak­ing it lightly.”

Yet while he said the fail­ure to hold onto their lead against Portsmouth and the sub­se­quent point Lu­ton had won had turned the af­ter­noon into an ‘anti-cli­max’ he pointed out one con­so­la­tion for him­self and his team-mates. “Of course it would have been great to have got it all over with here at Portsmouth,” said Carey. “But now we have got the chance to get pro­mo­tion at Home Park. So hope­fully against New­port the place will be packed to ca­pac­ity. “Our fans have waited a long time for us to get out of this di­vi­sion and were hit hard when we failed to get through the play-offs last year. So it would be re­ally fit­ting if we can get the one point we need at home.” And there must have been some sim­i­lar emo­tions in the Portsmouth dress­ing room as a win would have ex­tended their lead in third place in the ta­ble over Lu­ton to ten points.

But while they have a trip to Notts County to­mor­row they know that their fi­nal two home games against Cam­bridge and Chel­tenham should pro­vide the points they need to play in League One next sea­son.

How­ever, while Ply­mouth look to pos­sess all the com­po­nents they need to climb up­wards, sev­eral rungs are clearly miss­ing on the Pom­pey lad­der.

Par­tic­u­larly in the first half they had most of the ball pos­ses­sion and af­ter the break they cre­ated far more chances than the vis­i­tors.

But they only took one of them when, in the 57th minute ,a low cross from Kyle Ben­nett hit the chest of div­ing keeper Luke McCormick and Gary Roberts prod­ded home the re­bound.

Ben­nett him­self had one clear chance but shot wide and in the last ten min­utes when Kal Nai­smith’s cross found Conor Chap­lin un­marked he was un­able to score.

Portsmouth man­ager Paul Cook said: “It’s dif­fi­cult to break down such a well-or­gan­ised team.

“I don’t think we opened them up and cre­ated enough clear-cut chances in the sec­ond half.

“We’ll lick our wounds and we’ll try and give our fans what they’re des­per­ately crav­ing, which is pro­mo­tion this year.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

GO­ING UP? Jake Jervis cel­e­brates scor­ing the first goal for Ply­mouth

BACK IN IT: Portsmouth’s Gary Roberts scores their equaliser STAR MAN GARY SAWYER Ply­mouth

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