After a first leg at Fratton Park which finished in deadlock, Portsmouth and Oxford United face off at the Kassam Stadium looking to book a place in the League One play-off final on Monday.
The tie sits on a knife edge after Ronan Curtis’ opener was cancelled out by a fantastic Marcus Browne solo strike just before half time. This is the polar opposite of the other semi-final clash between Wycombe Wanderers and Fleetwood Town, which looks to have been wrapped up by Gareth Ainsworth’s men.
Absolutely nothing has separated the two sides this term; after playing out two draws in two different competitions, they both finished level on points in League One after 35 games apiece. Another draw on Friday night has added to the drama which will draw to a conclusion on Monday.
Oxford boss Karl Robinson had been left to sweat on the fitness of trio Cameron Brannagan, Matty Taylor and Browne, but spoke to local press on Saturday morning and was confident all three would be okay for Monday evening.
As for Portsmouth, Bryn Morris is aiming to be fit for Wembley should his side reach the final, but three games in 10 days after 14 months out looks one step too far – he may be rested on Monday. There are no other injuries to report as Kenny Jackett looks to take a step closer to adding to his three previous promotions.
Portsmouth (4-2-3-1): Bass; McGrorie, Burgess, Raggett, Bolton; McGeehan, Naylor; Curtis, Cannon, Harness; Marquis.
Oxford United (4-3-3): Eastwood; Long, Dickie, Moore, Ruffels; Gorrin, Brannagan, Woodburn; Henry, Taylor, Browne.
Oxford boss Karl Robinson is relishing the chance to reach Wembley with his side on Monday.
“We go again on Monday and it will be an even better game I hope”, he said.
After an impressive showing at Fratton Park, the U's return to Oxfordshire knowing that a home victory will be enough to take them to the final. Robinson is pleased with the start to the tie his side have made.
“If this was in the league, I think the fans would be saying what a fantastic away performance”, Robinson said.
“We were both coming up against very good teams. I think we’ll all take that.”
Jackett was also looking immediately towards the second leg after Friday’s draw.
“We have to make sure that we put as much pressure on Oxford as we can on Monday night - and they will obviously be looking to do the same to us”, Jackett mused after the first leg.
“It’s 1-1. The match was always going to go into the second leg, both sides finished on 60 points and it just shows you it’s set up for the second leg.”