This Saturday, Pompey will look to push on from last week’s victory at home to Colchester by claiming their first away win of the campaign when they travel to Exeter City’s St James’ Park. Last Saturday’s victory was enough to quieten Pompey’s doubters temporarily, but another win tomorrow would go to great lengths to silence them for good.
Exeter have endured a disappointing start to the season, and find themselves second from bottom of the table with three points from four games. Their only league win of the season so far came in their most recent league game, when they beat Accrington Stanley 2-1 at the Crown Ground, but they have suffered defeats in their other matches; at the hands of Blackpool, Hartlepool, and Crawley. They have had more success in the EFL Cup, beating Championship Brentford in the first round before going down to Premier League Hull City on Tuesday night.
One to watch:
One of the key men for the Grecians so far this term – and the surprise leader of their scoring charts – is Ryan Harley. In the past the central midfielder has never been prolific, but he has registered in both the EFL Cup victory over Brentford and the league win against Accrington. Pompey must be aware of his prowess from free kicks. Another name to look out for is Ethan Ampadu, who has just become Exeter’s youngest ever player at the age of 15.
City are likely to play a 4-4-2 system which will see Ollie Watkins playing just off the main striker. This is a classic tactic which will probably see Watkins partnered up front with the taller Robbie Simpson, who will aim to knock down long balls to him.
We’ve seen you before…:
Lee Holmes, who made five appearances for Pompey during the 2014-15 season, currently finds himself on the fringes at St James’ Park. After his unsuccessful loan spell with Pompey he went back to his parent club, Preston North End, before being shipped back out on loan to the Grecians. He impressed manager, Paul Tisdale, and joined them permanently in 2015.
After a less than impressive start to the season, Pompey started their road to recovery last week with a home victory against Colchester United. They will be hoping to put together a good run of form to propel themselves up the league table and make a push for promotion.
Despite the successful change of tactics last week when Paul Cook’s switch to a 4-4-2 diamond earned them a win, I anticipate that Pompey will start with a 4-2-3-1 formation on Saturday. Although Cook has said he is open to playing with two strikers at home, on the road I expect him to stick with his favoured tactic. Cook has said he is prepared to make changes to his starting eleven, but I think he might field an unchanged team from last Saturday.
Last week’s predictions went very well, as I predicted a Pompey win and Gary Roberts to put in a man of the match performance! Hopefully the same thing will happen again, but I’m expecting tomorrow’s match to be a very close one – I’ll go for a 1-2 Pompey win.
Man of the match prediction:
I think Kyle Bennett could come to the fore at St James’ Park, as he has not found himself being involved as much as he was used to last season, and the ex-Doncaster man rarely goes missing for longer than a couple of games at a time before reminding everybody of what he is capable of.
First goalscorer prediction:
Unfortunately, I think Pompey could find themselves going behind early on, so my pick for first goalscorer is Exeter’s frontman, Ollie Watkins. Pompey sometimes struggle to handle tall, physical strikers, so the defence will be concentrating on trying to keep Robbie Simpson quiet, leaving Watkins free to do some damage.
To be honest, I would be happy if my predictions ended up being completely wrong if it meant that Pompey could record a comprehensive victory. The details of the match will be rendered unimportant as long as Pompey get a win and, as all Pompey fans will agree, the most important thing about Saturday is that the Blues bring home three points!