Portsmouth FC v Harrogate Town: Sulphurites must embrace 'hostile' atmosphere at Portsmouth FC's Fratton Park

Harrogate Town boss Simon Weaver wants his players to relish the challenge of trying to upset League One Portsmouth in front of a “hostile” Fratton Park on Saturday afternoon.

Friday, 3rd December 2021, 2:28 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd December 2021, 2:30 pm
Fratton Park, home of Portsmouth FC. Pictures: Getty Images

The Sulphurites take on the 2008 FA Cup winners once again, just over two years on from the clubs’ 2019 meeting at the first-round stage of the competition.

Pompey regularly attract home crowds in excess of 14,000, while by comparison, the gate of 8,199 at Swindon last weekend was the biggest Town have ever competed in front of.

“It will be hostile at Portsmouth, without a doubt” Weaver told the Harrogate Advertiser.

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Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver wants his players to embrace the 'hostile' atmosphere he expects Pompey's supporters to create.

“When we drew them in the FA Cup two years ago, Paul Thirlwell and I travelled down to watch them play Southend and the atmosphere was something else. They’ve got a really partisan crowd and that bell. You certainly know that their supporters are there.

“But, we want our lads to embrace it. We deserve these moments and we want to give a good account of ourselves, prove we belong in stadiums like Fratton Park – and to enjoy it.

“The players need to settle down and try and carry out the game-plan. They did that fantastically well at Swindon at the weekend. They handled their crowd, who turned up thinking they were going to roll us over.

“Once they realised after the first 10 minutes that it wasn’t going to happen they became a bit frustrated and if you go about it the right way, and stay composed, you can turn a big home crowd against their own team.”

Town set up their meeting with Portsmouth by beating National League Wrexham 2-1 last month, while Pompey edged out Harrow Borough of the Southern Premier League.

But, with a total of 52 other teams in the hat for the second round draw due to some ties still requiring replays, Weaver couldn’t believe that his side ended up being paired with the Hampshire outfit once again.

“It’s crazy,” he added.

“It will show how far we’ve come since we last played them won’t it. They’ve still got some of the same players, [Ronan] Curtis the left-winger, [John] Marquis up front and Sean Raggett at the back.

“Obviously we lost that game [by a 2-1 scoreline] but I don’t think we played badly at all. We’re a League Two team now and it will be a good indicator in terms of our progress.

“It’s one of those draws where you think ‘this will be a proper stern test’, however we can go there and really have a go at them and look to express ourselves in a really good stadium.”

Town head to Hampshire seventh in League Two. Pompey are currently ninth in the division above and have won all of their last five matches.