Pompey’s third trip of the season to Lancashire on Tuesday night ended with their third defeat to a Lancashire side, as Blackpool easily defeated the Blues at Bloomfield Road. After Pompey went behind early on, a remarkable bicycle kick by Conor Chaplin found its way into the top corner to equalise before two goals from individual mistakes sealed a 3-1 victory for the Tangerines. Pompey are still undefeated at home and will need to continue that form for the visit of third placed Doncaster on Saturday.

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The opposition:

Recent form:
Doncaster are third in League Two after a good start to the season. They are one of four sides (including Pompey) on 17 points and only goal difference separates them from second place. Plymouth Argyle are five points clear at the top on 22 points so both Pompey and Donny will want to ensure that they get a victory on Saturday to bridge that gap.

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One to watch:
Tommy Rowe is, in my opinion, Doncaster’s best player as he belongs at a far higher level than League Two. Although Rowe has been in good early season form, his performances have so far been eclipsed by veteran striker, James Coppinger. He recently made his 600th Football League appearance and, with five goals so far this season, is looking good value to add to that figure significantly.

Tactics:
Donny tend to operate with a 4-2-3-1 system, and are much like Pompey in that respect. It will be an interesting battle between two good sides at Fratton Park, and although it is still early in the season, we could be looking at a vital match in the promotion race. There will be much competition in the Doncaster ranks, as players such as Coppinger and John Marquis battle it out for a starting berth.

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We’ve seen you before…:
John Marquis had a couple of spells at Fratton Park and, although he proved a useful aquisition at the time, he was not really able to cut it at League One level. He has already scored five goals this season, and the Blues will be well aware of the threat he poses if he plays.

Pompey:

Recent form:
The Blackpool result is a concerning one for Pompey, but they will need to ensure that they bounce back quickly and continue their good home form. They will need key players like Gary Roberts, Carl Baker, and Danny Rose to perform – as all of the above could be accused of not showing up on Tuesday night – in order to get back to winning form.

Tactics:
Cook will have some tough decisions on his hands, as his choice not to change a winning team on Tuesday backfired. It is likely that we will see a small-scale reshuffle of the starting eleven, with some of the disappointing performers from midweek dropping out of the team. One player who should certainly keep his place, in my opinion, is Conor Chaplin. He has been awarded with two starts this season, and has now scored three consecutive league goals, so Cook needs to let him keep his place so he can generate the positive momentum into another goalscoring performance. Here is my predicted starting lineup:

image.jpegI think Kal Naismith and Tom Davies will be dropped in favour of Milan Lalković and Matt Clarke. Davies was at fault for the Tangerines’ third goal on Tuesday as he was caught in possession on the halfway line, and Clarke has had to wait patiently for his return from injury to the league starting eleven. Naismith didn’t do anything especially wrong on Tuesday but has not done much to justify his place in the starting eleven recently. Lalković, however, will be high on confidence after coming off the bench to score his first goal of the season against Barnet.

Predictions:

Score prediction:
Doncaster are undoubtedly one of the best sides in the league so the Blues will have to be at their best to get anything out of the match. However, they lost against Luton early in the season so may have some trouble turning up for the big matches. In general, Portsmouth are strong against the better sides and so I am predicting them to pick up a 2-1 win.

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Man of the Match prediction:
Pompey’s goalkeeper rarely has anything to do, but the Doncaster attack could really test David Forde on Saturday. So far, the veteran Millwall loanee has proved himself to be up to the task of being the foundations on which Pompey’s success is built, and I can see him playing a big part at the weekend.

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First goalscorer:
It is becoming a bit of a recurring theme in my blog, but the fact is: when Conor Chaplin plays he usually scores. Hopefully the same thing will happen on Saturday and Chaplin can go on a Vardy-like run of consecutive goals. I’m backing Chaplin to open the scoring for Pompey on Saturday, hopefully paving the way for three points.

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