The wait for the 215th South Coast Derby is almost over. It could be one of the most important derbies to date concerning where Southampton and Portsmouth will play their football next season. Since the 1-1 draw at Fratton Park back in December, there have been numerous happenings at the two clubs with Saints flying high at the top of the Championship and Pompey lingering in the relegation zone after a 10 point deduction for going into administration. This is the fixture that every Saints and Pompey fan would have looked for when the fixtures were released last June and now El Clasicoast Part II is on the horizon.
|El Clasicoast Part II is rapidly approaching|
The South Coast Derby is one of the most vicious derbies in the UK filled with passion from both sets of fans as bragging rights are at stake to be top dog of the south coast until the next meeting after Saturday afternoon. For Southampton, the prospect of Premier League football returning to St. Mary's is edging closer however there are still six important matches to go in the run-in. Nigel Adkins' men go into this weekend's match on the back of a comprehensive 3-0 away defeat at Blackpool which was the Saints' first league defeat in 13 matches. Pompey had a more forgettable day at the office last Saturday as they were thrashed 5-1 by Burnley at Fratton Park which was their first defeat in five league games. In the case of all derby matches, the form-guide will be thrown out of the window despite the fact that Southampton will be favourites with the bookmakers.
The last time the two clubs met at St. Mary's was in the fifth round of the F.A. Cup in 2010 with Portsmouth coming out on top winning by four goals to one. Every Saints fan would be looking for revenge for that defeat however it is another important game to gain another three points for their Premier League dream. Rickie Lambert will be fit for this weekend's derby after it was confirmed by BBC Radio Solent on Twitter earlier today tweeting, "@solentsport: #Saintsfc striker Rickie Lambert was "banging in the goals in training" says Nigel Adkins. Set to return on Saturday v #Pompey." It was the news that every Saints fan had been waiting for as he missed the defeat at Blackpool on Saturday due to a pelvic injury. It was Lambert who scored for Nigel Adkins' men in the December fixture heading in from Danny Fox's free-kick and also scored to equalise in the F.A. Cup match two years ago.
The news of Lambert's comeback from injury wasn't the news Pompey fans would've wanted to hear however the derby is the perfect opportunity to boost their Championship survival hopes. The long term future of Portsmouth Football Club still hangs by a thread as they still look for a new owner to take over the club after a disastrous time at Fratton Park. Pompey boss Michael Appleton has had to handle the prospect of the club going out of business however credit has to be given to him to get his players to perform on the pitch with the thought of broken promises to the former West Brom coach. Before the thrashing by Burnley, Appleton has seen his side to beat two of the Championship's promotion chasers in Birmingham and Hull City at Fratton Park to give a chance of surviving the League One trapdoor.
Of course, there will be the numerous amounts of banter between the two sets of fans with the occasional chant or two however I'm sure most fans would agree with me to see Portsmouth stay afloat because we need them as much as they need us. The rivalry has plenty of history behind it with fans of both clubs eagerly wanting to get the better over their M27 rivals. It will be another fantastic atmosphere at St. Mary's with both teams needing the all-important three points for their respective ambitions in front of a sell-out crowd. To the lucky ones that managed to get a ticket for the derby, get behind the lads as you always do and we can get another crucial win before going to Crystal Palace on Easter Monday! COYR!