Pompey go into their match at home against Barnet with the intention of recovering from their defeat at Accrington Stanley last weekend. The Crown Ground defeat ended a run of four straight wins for Paul Cook’s side, so Pompey will look to respond in the best way possible.
Barnet are currently 14th in League Two but have played a game fewer than the teams around them after their match against Newport County was postponed. They have beaten Accrington and Mansfield so far this season, but have picked up just six points from their last five league games.
As usual, John Akinde is the man on whom Bees fans pin their hopes of a successful season. The hitman netted 23 league goals last season and over 31 the season before to fire them to promotion from the Conference. Pompey are no strangers to Akinde either, with him having spent an unsuccessful spell at Fratton Park in 2013.
Barnet’s play very much revolves around Akinde and he will once again be key to their aspirations. They are likely to sit deep and fire the ball long to the powerful striker, who will try and bring the advanced midfield players into play. Barnet are a very physical side and are likely to try and play the game on their terms, breaking up Pompey’s passing play with little fouls to disrupt the flow of the game.
We’ve seen you before…:
John Akinde is by far the best-known player in the Barnet ranks, and is often the target of some abuse from the Fratton End because he never showed his true ability while at Pompey. It is imperative that the Blues’ defence is aware of the threat he brings and that they restrict the number of chances he is given.
The Blues will be looking to get back to their best after a disappointing display last Saturday. They failed to register a single shot on target over the course of the game and, as ever, the fans singled out Michael Smith and Kyle Bennett as the worst performers. However, until then the performances had been very positive so Cook will be keen to ensure that they return to winning ways instantly.
Cook will have a dilemma on his hands ahead of this week: whether to return to his tried and tested team selection or to show faith with those who underperformed last week. Smith, in particular, will have his place under scrutiny. Personally, I think he will reshuffle his team in order to incorporate those he dropped last week. Pompey will also be boosted by the returns of Adam Buxton, Jack Whatmough, and Ben Close from injury, although Curtis Main is still a doubt. I can see two changes being made, with Bennett and Smith dropping out of the starting eleven to be replaced by Adam Buxton and Conor Chaplin. Here is my predicted lineup:
I expect Pompey to bounce back from the defeat at Accrington with an emphatic victory. The Blues will have a point to prove so will go out all guns blazing and I simply feel that the quality of the attacking players will be too much for the Bees. I’m going for a 4-1 victory, as I expect John Akinde to score a consolation for Barnet.
Man of the match prediction:
Gareth Evans has been playing as a right-back in recent weeks but I think Paul Cook will move him forward to his favoured position in attacking midfield due to the return of Adam Buxton. Although Evans has done a decent job as a makeshift defender, I am expecting to see his true colours shine through if he is played on the right of the attacking midfield three. We could see a complete performance from the ex-Fleetwood man on Saturday.
First goalscorer prediction:
It’s been a while since Pompey have seen a goal from Michael Doyle and, although he is an unlikely scorer, I have a feeling he will score on Saturday. The captain has been very consistent so far this season but is yet to do anything especially eye-catching, and I feel the weekend could be the time for that to change.