Portsmouth 1-1 Oxford United: As it happened
Marcus Browne strikes the equaliser for Oxford. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images.


19:322 years ago

Portsmouth and Oxford couldn't be separated in the league table with an equal number of points, they couldn't be separated when they met earlier in the season, and there is nothing between them yet again tonight.

It will be all to play for in the second leg at the Kassam Stadium, and you can find out who will make it to the play-off final at Wembley by following our updates again on Monday.

The other semi-final first leg is about to get underway as Fleetwood take on Wycombe, and you can follow the action with John Lupo here.

That's all from this game though - thanks for joining us!

19:282 years ago

FULL-TIME: Portsmouth 1-1 Oxford United

An exciting first half, in which Ronan Curtis and Marcus Browne both netted, gave way to a far more cagey second period with chances few and far between.

Both teams seemed happy enough to stick with the draw rather than risk trailing going into the second leg, and as such they'll start all square at the Kassam Stadium on Monday night.

19:272 years ago

90+5' A Pompey corner in the final seconds evades everybody and that should be that.

19:272 years ago

90+4' Brown sees a cross headed away by Dickie in the first real attack either side has made in added time. There's then a collision in the box as Curtis takes a tumble after a touch from Agyei, but there isn't much in it.

19:232 years ago

90' Five added minutes for either side to grab a winner.

19:202 years ago

88' Harness puts a decent ball into the box but it needs a touch and doesn't get one, and falls into the arms of Eastwood as a result.

19:192 years ago

87' Yellow card shown to Gorrin for slashing down Curtis as he advanced dangerously down the Portsmouth left.

19:182 years ago

85' Agyei comes inside but Sykes then loses the ball for Oxford. Portsmouth no better with possession as a very long ball from Bolton runs all the way to Bass. Another goal isn't looking too likely at this rate.

19:152 years ago

83' Harness is clipped for a Pompey free kick, from which Burgess rises and heads towards goal with an effort that Eastwood has to push around the post before claiming the resulting corner.

19:132 years ago

81' That's the end of Brannigan's evening, and Oxford are making a double change. Irishman Forde replaces him while Dan Agyei comes on for goalscorer Browne.

19:122 years ago

80' Brannigan is down receiving treatment after a challenge with Sykes in midfield, could be a hamstring issue.

19:112 years ago

79' Oxford break from the corner and Browne is found down the right, but he's outnumbered and loses possession eventually.

19:102 years ago

77' Curtis slides the ball into Brown but Sykes comes across to block for a corner.

19:052 years ago
74' Change up front for Oxford now as well. Taylor, who has had a fairly quiet evening, is replaced by Jamie Mackie.
19:052 years ago

73' Moore does well to get his head to the corner ahead of Raggett. Marquis is on, replacing Harrison up front. He's Portsmouth top scorer this season with 13 goals.

19:032 years ago

71' A good cross from sub Williams is well defended by Dickie. Marquis looks like he'll be coming on shortly for Pompey as Harness sees a shot blocked for a corner.

19:002 years ago

68' A quickly-taken free kick leads to a Curtis cross forcing a corner. Nothing comes of it and the referee signals for the second-half drinks break.

18:572 years ago

65' Sykes wins a free kick, from which Moore knocks the ball down and Raggett does well to get into a position to steer it towards his keeper.

18:562 years ago

64' Henry aims for the spectacular from distance as the ball sits up from Browne's lay-off, but the effort doesn't provide much challenge for Bass.

18:552 years ago

62' Consecutive corners come to nothing for Oxford. Two changes being made now by Jackett as right-back James Bolton and Australian international winger Ryan Williams replace McCrorie and Cannon.

18:502 years ago

58' Henry has an audacious effort on goal direct from the corner, but the destination is the side netting.

18:492 years ago

57' Sykes's ball runs all the way to Browne and he takes one touch before launching a deflected strike for an Oxford corner.

18:482 years ago

56' The first involvement from Sykes sees him found advanced down the right wing, and he hangs a cross which is held by Bass on his line.

18:472 years ago

55' The first substitution of the game comes from Oxford, as Woodburn is replaced in the midfield by Northern Irishman Mark Sykes.

18:452 years ago

52' Eastwood comes out well to claim a long ball aimed for the run of McCrorie. Harrison is then far from pleased as he ends up on the deck attacking a corner. Dickie blocks him off but it looks a fair challenge.

18:422 years ago

50' Burgess clears a Ruffels cross from the left after more good work from the ever-threatening Browne.

18:412 years ago

49' Portsmouth have at least managed to establish a little bit of control again with the 15-minute break.

18:382 years ago

46' Oxford get the second half up and running and within seconds Browne is upended by Burgess.

18:222 years ago

HALF-TIME: Portsmouth 1-1 Oxford United

Little sign of rustiness from these two teams in a cracking first half.

Portsmouth dominated the opening half-hour and Ronan Curtis's thumping goal from an angle was just reward for the start that they made.

That goal brought Oxford out of their shell and they were well on top afterwards, with Marcus Browne scoring a brilliant individual effort to level things at the break.

18:202 years ago

45+3' The corner flies past everyone before Portsmouth try to counter. Taylor leaves a late challenge on McGeehan but the only punishment is a free kick, from which Cannon twice has efforts blocked in the box.

18:192 years ago

45+2' Oxford are awarded a free kick for a McGeehan handball and Browne's set-piece is nodded behind by Burgess for a corner.

18:172 years ago

45' Browne comes forward again before passing to Taylor, who stumbles then has an effort blocked. It was a superb response to going behind from Oxford, and Browne's goal was a reward for that. Three minutes to be added on.

18:162 years ago

GOAL! Portsmouth 1-1 Oxford United

43' What a goal from Browne! Brannigan finds him on the halfway line and the winger does the rest, striding forward before cutting inside and arrowing a strike into the bottom corner from outside the area! 

18:142 years ago

43' Henry's first-time pass sets Woodburn away down the Oxford right wing but his cross is directly into the arms of Bass.

18:132 years ago

41' A Morris cross-field pass is controlled by the arm of Ruffels and the left-back's indiscretion is picked up on by the referee.

18:112 years ago

40' Going behind seems to have brought out a more focused Oxford. After more possession McCrorie fouls Browne, not for the first time this evening.

18:102 years ago

37' Brannigan finds Browne with room to cross from the left, and it's a threatening delivery right across the face of goal. Portsmouth are left thankful that nobody was anticipating it.

18:082 years ago

36' Long's cross hits the head of Browne without him knowing much about it. Oxford then win a corner but can't do anything with it.

18:062 years ago

34' Browne goes for an optimistic strike from distance as Oxford look for a quick response to the opener, but the shot is scuffed somewhat and rolls gingerly wide of the post.

18:052 years ago

GOAL! Portsmouth 1-0 Oxford United

32' A goal that Pompey's start has deserved! Harrison and Cannon combine to get the ball out left to Curtis and he looks too wide out to score, but he wallops it with power and it flies under Eastwood at his near post.

18:022 years ago

31' There's some pushing and shoving in the box from a Portsmouth corner and Dickie has a hold of Burgess, but the referee sees no reason to give a penalty.

18:002 years ago

28' A forceful challenge by Brannigan through the back of Harrison leads to some confrontations between the two sets of players. Brannigan and McGeehan, who was the first to get aggressive after the challenge, are both cautioned.

17:582 years ago

27' It leads to their best chance so far as Henry's corner finds Ruffels in space at the back post, but it's scrambled away for a second corner.

17:582 years ago

26' Taylor's lay-off allows Henry to attack down the right and he wins Oxford's first corner of the game.

17:562 years ago

24' At last Oxford have a controlled spell on the ball, but Henry puts too much on a pass out wide to Long. Time for the drinks break.

17:532 years ago

22' The determination of Curtis wins the ball back for Portsmouth who, after going back to the keeper, attack again down the left. A dangerous cross is cleared by Ruffels.

17:512 years ago

19' Brannagan clips McGeehan and Portsmouth go left from the free kick, though Curtis's free kick is over the head of Harrison. The ball then goes down the right with a McCrorie cross cut off by Moore.

17:492 years ago

18' Oxford want the game stopped with a man down but Portsmouth continue. By the time they get the ball back they have 11 up again and their first real spell of possession in the game ends with Woodburn's pass in behind falling to keeper Bass.

17:482 years ago

16' Brown makes forward strides from the left and finds Harrison and he passes on to Harness, who has an effort from the edge of the box blocked. McCrorie's cross is then too long.

17:462 years ago

15' A game of head tennis ends with a Portsmouth free kick. They recycle possession until a longer pass doesn't stick to Harness.

17:442 years ago

13' Browne is the next to commit a foul after losing a rare piece of Oxford possession to McCrorie. Harrison and Harness combine well before McCrorie has a low cross blocked by Browne.

17:422 years ago

11' Dickie gives away another free kick with Pompey looking that second quicker in these early stages. They're keeping possession very well.

17:402 years ago

9' The free kick is delivered by Harness into the middle of the box where both centre-backs are attacking it, and one of them flicks it over the bar.

17:392 years ago

8' Curtis is looking dangerous again and Long has to upend him to bring him to a halt. The Irish international looks like he means business today.

17:392 years ago


6' First big chance comes from Portsmouth as Curtis cuts inside from the left and strikes the post!

17:382 years ago

5' There's a square pattern on the Fratton Park pitch that is pretty harsh on the eyes but neither side has done much to dazzle so far. Woodburn crosses harmlessly to Bass.

17:352 years ago

4' Another corner follows, it is played quickly and Morris's hanging cross to the back post is nodded tamely into the gloves of the goalkeeper by Harrison.

17:342 years ago

3' Portsmouth have had most of the early possession and skipper Lee Brown wins the first corner as his cross is blocked.

17:322 years ago


Portsmouth kick off in their traditional colours, with Oxford in their away strip of white shirts and socks and black shorts.

17:312 years ago

The two teams are out onto the Fratton Park pitch and there is a minute's applause for the NHS before the game kicks-off.

17:302 years ago

What to expect

Portsmouth are the only team in the EFL to have not lost a match at home all season. They have the third-best aerial record and are third for set-piece goals too, with Burgess and Raggett dominant in both boxes.

Oxford have the highest average possession (54.6%) in the league and the second-highest pass accuracy (76.4%), although they also have the most goals from counter attacks this season.

There should be plenty of chances - these two have had the most shots per game in League One (both 14.4).

17:202 years ago

Robinson anticipates cagey start

Oxford boss Karl Robinson told Sky Sports what he expects from his team ahead of the match: "I know I'll get honesty. I know I'll get determination. We've got a very clear game plan but I'm sure Portsmouth will as well.

"All four teams playing today are in exactly the same boat, we're not 100% sure. But none of us can complain, we've had exactly the same time to prepare and it's the same for each team.

"We know there are two legs and there will be another big game on Monday. The weather will play a big role in this today but I imagine it will be a cagey game early on as both teams get used to playing again. I'm sure it will open up more in the second half and the next game on Monday.

17:152 years ago

Jackett expecting close tie

Portsmouth are yet to win a single play-off match in their history and manager Kenny Jackett said to Sky Sports ahead of the match: "It's a record that a lot of people have reminded me of. If you keep persevering you'll get there!

"In the end, if we're a good enough team we'll get through. We've been competitive in this division all of the time. The top part of the division has been at a very good standard. It was close all season and I think the play-offs will be like that as well.

"It's quite evenly matched between us and Oxford, we both finished on 60 points. They will be really good games, I'm sure." 

17:102 years ago


There was nothing to split the teams in their meeting earlier in the season, with Matty Taylor's last-minute equaliser for Oxford cancelling out Gareth Evans' penalty at Fratton Park.

Oxford's previous two visits before that finished 3-0 and 4-1, with their last win here coming in January 2016.

17:022 years ago

Match preview

Read John Lupo's match preview here for everything you need to know ahead of the game.
16:462 years ago

Team news: Oxford United

Oxford are competing in an EFL play-off campaign for the very first time after finishing fourth in the table, their highest league position since relegation from the second-tier in 1999.

Welsh international Ben Woodburn, on loan from Liverpool, makes a first appearance since breaking a bone in his foot in October.

Skipper John Mousinho is on the bench with Elliott Moore favoured at centre-back. The front three of Marcus Browne, Matty Taylor and James Henry will all be players to watch.

16:432 years ago

Team news: Portsmouth

Portsmouth are in the play-offs for a second year in succession, and will hope to go further than last time when they were beaten by Sunderland at the semi-final stage.

Bryn Morris, who missed the whole of the regular season through injury, and Barnsley loanee Cameron McGeehan are favoured in central midfield with skipper Tom Naylor on the bench and Ben Close absent altogether.

Lee Brown captains the side having been favoured at left-back over Steve Seddon while Ross McCrorie, on loan from Rangers, is at right-back. Ellis Harrison is picked up front ahead of John Marquis.

16:352 years ago


Portsmouth: Bass; McCrorie, Burgess, Raggett, Brown; Morris, McGeehan; Harness, Cannon, Curtis; Harrison.

Subs: MacGillivray, Downing, Bolton, Seddon, Naylor, Evans, Williams, Marquis, Hawkins.

Oxford: Eastwood; Ruffels, Dickie, Moore, Long; Gorrin, Brannagan, Woodburn; Browne, Taylor, Henry.

Subs: Stevens, Forde, Mousinho, Sykes, Mackie, Hanson, Agyei, Atkinson, Kelly.

16:302 years ago

One hour to go!

There is one hour until kick-off in the first League One play-off semi-final first leg.

Team news to come shortly...

19:582 years ago

How to watch

The match will be shown live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football, with coverage starting at 5pm.

If you can't watch it, keep tuned for match updates here on VAVEL.

19:562 years ago

Big opportunity for Oxford

Oxford top scorer Matty Taylor, back at his hometown club on loan from Bristol City, knows well how much promotion to the Championship would mean.

He told PA: "They've been in League One for a few years now and they've just got better and better over the years."

"It's a massive game in the history of the club. The fans are all excited and I've got family members and mates that all support Oxford and they're buzzing for it.

"It's just a shame that they can't be in the stadium to watch it. That's the only downside. But I'm sure they'd snap your hand off to get promoted either way, to be honest."

19:512 years ago

Pompey skipper raring to go

Looking ahead to the play-offs, Portsmouth captain Tom Naylor said: “It was a weight off our shoulders when we heard how the season would end because now we know what the actual plan is.

“So everyone was buzzing when the news was confirmed because we were raring to get started again."

Pompey have been unbeaten at Fratton Park all season and Naylor added that they will have to cope without that natural home advantage behind closed doors.

He said: “The fans play a massive role for us – home and away – and it’s going to be strange not having them driving us on.

“It’s a big loss and you can’t deny that, but that’s just the way it’s got to be at the moment and you have to deal with it."

19:422 years ago

Predicted line-ups

Portsmouth: Bass; Seddon, Burgess, Raggett, Bolton; Close, Naylor; Curtis, Cannon, Harness; Marquis.

Oxford: Eastwood; Ruffels, Dickie, Mousinho, Long; Gorrin, Brannagan, Sykes; Browne, Taylor, Henry.

19:402 years ago

Team news: Oxford United

Oxford have extended the loans of Middlesborugh winger Marcus Browne and Bristol City striker Matty Taylor to allow them to be a part of their play-off campaign.

Attacking midfielder Ben Woodburn also remains at the club on loan from Liverpool and is back fit, having not played since breaking a bone in his foot back in October.

Nathan Holland is back at West Ham after his injuries, however, while Chris Cadden returned to Columbus Crew.

George Thorne is not available either, with the central midfielder short on fitness having struggled with injury since signing in January.

There were also two positive Covid-19 tests among players or staff last month, but everyone at the club now has the all-clear.

19:342 years ago

Team news: Portsmouth

Manager Kenny Jackett says that he has a fully-fit Pompey squad to pick from for this first leg.

However, a trio of players who signed short-term contract extensions to remain at the club for the play-off campaign are not under consideration. Brett Pitman, Matt Casey and Adam May all signed on but will only feature if there is a lack of numbers.

Additionally, one unnamed player in the squad has not been in training due to coronavirus concerns.

19:302 years ago

League One play-offs begin

Almost a month after the decision was taken to end the 2019-20 season, and close to four months since the final games were played, the League One play-offs get underway.

In the final standings decided by points-per-game, Oxford finished in fourth with Portsmouth just behind in fifth, pitting them head-to-head over two legs for a place at Wembley.

19:262 years ago


Welcome to VAVEL.com's live coverage of the League One play-off semi-final first leg match between Portsmouth and Oxford United.

My name is Stephen Ibbetson and I'll be your host for the game with pre-match analysis, team news and live updates.