Pompey will try and move on from the midweek defeat at the hands of Yeovil by beating Crawley at Fratton Park on Saturday.  The Blues made eleven changes for the Checkatrade Trophy tie, and very few of them are likely to retain their places in the starting eleven for this weekend’s league game.  Therefore, the midweek loss will not have much of an impact on the Blues this weekend seeing as most of the players will be different.

 

The opposition:

Recent form:
Crawley have started relatively well in the league this season, and currently occupy ninth place in the table.  They have picked up eight points from their first five games, which has exceeded most people’s expectations considering they were tipped for relegation going into the season.  They have lost just one league game all season – a 3-1 defeat to Notts County last Saturday.  Meanwhile, their midweek Checkatrade Trophy match finished with the Red Devils beating Colchester 1-0.

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Image courtesy of crawleyobserver.co.uk

One to watch:
James Collins has a proven goalscoring record, and the 25 year-old opened his account for his new club on Tuesday.  He is the Red Devils’ marquee signing and they will be relying on him continuing his prolific form this season in order to score the goals to keep them in the league.

Tactics:
4-2-3-1 has been the system of choice recently for Crawley and they have been making a concerted effort to take the attack to their opponents so far this season, a welcome change from last season’s – shall we say – more conservative approach.  Many Pompey fans will remember the trip to the Checkatrade.com Stadium last season when the home side sat back and held out for a 0-0 from the first whistle, before celebrating wildly at full-time.

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Image courtesy of bbc.co.uk

We’ve seen you before…:
Crawley is one of the only teams in League Two not to have a single ex-Pompey player on their books, but they have Billy Clifford, whose brother, Connor, had a short spell on loan at Pompey, so that will have to do.

 

Pompey:

Recent form:
Let’s face it, Pompey’s loss in the Checkatrade Trophy is completely meaningless considering how weak the team was.  Pompey have now won two league games on the bounce and will look to continue that run on Saturday.  The defence has been rejuvenated since the arrival of David Forde and they have not kept three clean sheets from their five league games.

Tactics:
Transfer deadline day saw Adam Barton leave for Partick Thistle and Dominic Hyam join on loan from Reading.  However, I think it is unlikely that Hyam will feature on Saturday due to the solid performances of Christian Burgess and Tom Davies at centre-back at the weekend.  A big plus for Pompey is David Forde being available, when he was originally meant to miss the game due to being on international duty.  Very few of the players who played against Yeovil are likely to keep their places for the Crawley game.  My predicted lineup is:

I think Conor Chaplin could be in line to start, as otherwise he would surely have played in midweek.  I also think that Carl Baker could be given a rest due to his below par form of late, which would see Kyle Bennett recalled to the side.

 

Predictions:

Score prediction:
Pompey fans could be treated to the first emphatic victory of the season on Saturday.  If I remember correctly, the last time Crawley visited Fratton Park the hosts secured a 4-0 victory, and I can see a similar turn of events happening again.  I’ll go for a 3-0 win for Pompey.

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Image courtesy of portsmouthfc.co.uk

Man of the Match prediction:
Fans have been crying out for Paul Cook to let Conor Chaplin off his leash since the start of the season, and I think it could finally happen, to devastating effect.  I reckon we could see a Pompey striker score multiple goals in a league game for the first time since the departure of Marc McNulty in the summer, and the man of the match award is his for the taking if he plays.

First goalscorer prediction:
Again, Chaplin is my pick for first goalscorer.  Although he sometimes goes missing when the ball is in open play, he can always be relied upon to pop up in the penalty area to convert chances.

 

I’m hoping that my predictions will come good, and that Pompey will delight the Fratton Park crowd with a flurry of goals on Saturday.  Having said that, I would be more than happy with a scrappy 1-0 win and three more points for Pompey.

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