I am aiming to publish a Pompey Preview for every Pompey game this season, where I will outline my thoughts on the coming game, as well as look back on my last predictions.
Pompey will, tomorrow, end the run of three consecutive away matches when they welcome Colchester United to Fratton Park, and hopefully, while they’re at it, they can end the run of four matches without a win this season.
Colchester have made a strong start to their league campaign, and sit second in the table after three games. They remain unbeaten, having secured home wins against Grimsby and Cambridge, and drawing against Hartlepool in their only away game to date. However, they did not fare so well in the EFL Cup when they welcomed Brighton, falling to a 4-0 defeat against their Championship opposition.
One to watch:
Colchester’s man in form at the moment is Ben Dickenson, who has registered three league goals already this term. When operating in a 4-1-4-1 system, Dickenson plays on the left wing, which allows him to drift inside off the flank and pose a goal threat.
Despite starting the season with a common 4-2-3-1 formation, John McGreal has opted for a 4-1-4-1 system in the last couple of matches. This has seen Tom Lapslie drop back from central midfield to protect the back four, which gives the wingers, Ben Dickenson and Drey Wright, more freedom to go forward.
We’ve seen you before…:
Alex Wynter will return to Fratton Park tomorrow, where he spent a loan spell in the 2014-15 season from Crystal Palace. Although Andy Awford used Wynter as a right wing-back in a 3-5-2 system, he has been used as a centre half while at Colchester. Having been part of the Pompey team who finished lowest in the club’s history, Wynter is unlikely to get the most welcoming reception if he plays.
Pompey have started the season poorly, and are still to pick up their first win of the campaign. After Tuesday’s defeat to Morecambe, some fans are already calling for Paul Cook’s head, with names such as Neil Warnock, Paulo Di Canio, and Danny Hollands being mentioned as his successor. The less said about that; the better.
Amid the run of average results, some supporters have been asking for a change of tactic, namely 4-4-2, although I think Cook is likely to stick with his favoured 4-2-3-1 for tomorrow. I do, however, think a change in personnel is forthcoming, and would not be surprised to see Michael Smith drop out of the side for Curtis Main, and Milan Lalkovic replacing Kyle Bennett.
Although Colchester have started the season well, I think Pompey will put their bad form behind them and secure a win at Fratton Park. Getting an early goal could prove vital, as too long without one – especially if Pompey fall behind – could lead to the crowd getting on the team’s back and form a toxic atmosphere. I think it will be a close game, but I’ll go for a 2-1 home win.
Man of the Match prediction:
With some supporters getting on his back lately, I think Gary Roberts will prove his doubters wrong and put in a man of the match display. Although he – along with the rest of the team – was not at his brilliant best on Tuesday night, he put in a good display against Carlisle in the season curtain-raiser, and I can see him marking his return to Fratton Park with a performance to remember.
First goalscorer prediction:
If Curtis Main comes into the side I can see him having a big impact on proceedings. He is the kind of player who is not afraid to get himself into the danger area and get on the end of crosses, so he is a good bet for first goalscorer.
We’ll see what happens tomorrow; hopefully my predictions will be correct and Pompey can get a win!