Remarkably, despite the fact that Pompey didn’t reach the landmark at any point last season, the Blues can win their fifth game in a row tomorrow at the Crown Ground. They go into the game on the back of an exhilarating contest at Fratton Park last Saturday, which ended in Pompy beating Wycombe Wanderers by four goals to two. They will be looking to continue their strong goalscoring form tomorrow to continue their promotion push.
Stanley are currently 16th in the League Two table, and will be disappointed that they are not among the play-off spots after losing out in the semi-final last season. They lost several key players in the summer, with Josh Windass and Matt Crooks defecting to Rangers, so that could be a reason for their less than impressive start to the campaign. Accrington have so far picked up wins against Notts County and Doncaster Rovers, drawn against Carlisle and Wycombe, and lost to Crewe, Morecambe, Exeter, and Barnet. They have had better luck in the EFL Cup, and are through to the third round, having beaten Premier League Burnley.
One to watch:
Billy Kee was Accrington’s key man last season, notching 17 goals in the league. He has already raced to a tally of three goals in all competition this term and Pompey will have to be very careful that they do not present him with any scoring opportunities.
Accrington have started this season using the 4-3-3 formation which served them so well last season. This will almost certainly see Kee operating as a lone striker, with a couple of attacking midfielders supporting him. One of these midfielders could be the ex-Manchester United, Burnley, and Bolton winger, Chris Eagles, who has signed until January. The Crown Ground is not renowned for having the flattest pitch, so the match is likely to be a scrappy one, with both sides playing the ball long much of the time.
We’ve seen you before…:
It is fair to say that Rommy Boco did not enjoy the most successful of spells at Pompey last season, as he made just one start between signing on a free transfer and being allowed to join Stanley. It is fair to say that Boco has enjoyed a better start to his Accy career, as he has registered twice already this term. An interesting point of Boco move to the Crown Ground is that Paul Cook and John Coleman made a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ that Boco would not feature in the fixture last season, yet the Benin international came on as a substitute anyway.
Pompey will have taken fifteen points from a possible fifteen if they win tomorrow at the Crown Ground. This is a brilliant turnaround when you consider that they achieved just two points from their first three matches of the season. The defense looked slightly shaky against Wycombe last weekend, but before that they had kept four consecutive clean sheets so there does not seem to be too bad a problem there. On the other hand, the goalscoring form has been emphatic of late, and the Blues have scored seven in their last two matches. Pompey are going into the match with plenty of confidence, but will have to be ready for a tough test tomorrow.
Considering the brilliant recent performances, it is unlikely that Paul Cook will make too many alterations to his starting lineup. The only two changes I think could happen are down to injuries, as Curtis Main got a nasty blow to the head last week which could sideline him. Milan Lalković was substituted at half-time last week, and while I didn’t see any sign of an injury, I wouldn’t be surprised if he picked up a knock. I think Lalković will probably retain his place, but Main will drop out of the squad. For me, after last week’s performance, the only possible replacement for Main is Conor Chaplin. He ran the Chairboys’ defence ragged last week from the bench, and I think he could have an even greater impact if played from the start. Here is my predicted lineup:
The Blues could really struggle tomorrow, as Accrington have some quality players and the conditions at the County Ground will not suit Pompey’s passing style of play. I’m going for a 1-1 draw, and am expecting a really scrappy match.
Man of the Match prediction:
Whenever Conor Chaplin has been given a reasonable amount of game time so far this season, he has made a significant impact on the match. He is the kind of player that is a nightmare for opposition defenders to have to deal with as he is always on the move and trying to make defenders lose concentration. I can see him scoring Pompey’s goal and being the star man tomorrow.
First goalscorer prediction:
As I said above, I am backing Conor Chaplin to score Pompey’s first goal, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the visitors going behind early in the match. Billy Kee is my pick for first goalscorer and, given his prolific nature, I do not think I will be far wrong.
Hopefully Pompey can secure their fifth win in a row, ideally with Michael Doyle scoring a similar goal to the one he scored in this fixture last season! This would be the ideal scenario for me, but I am not expecting it to be that simple. To be completely honest, I would take a point at the Crown Ground, and if my prediction ends up being correct, I will be very pleased.