After another enthralling cup tie in the Checkatrade Trophy, Pompey must look to rectify their poor away form when they travel to the Matchroom Stadium on Saturday. A losing draw to Reading under 23s will have little bearing on the makeup of the match as Pompey are likely to make at least eight changes from the side that started on Tuesday.
Orient have been in poor form in the last five games, having taken just two points from the run of league matches. One of these was in their most recent match which was a goalless draw at Barnet. The pre-season promotion candidates currently occupy 17th spot in League Two and will be very disappointed with their slow start. However, Saturday will see new manager, Alberto Cavasin take to the dugout for the first time, so the Blues cannot know what type of performance to expect.
One to watch:
Orient have a wealth of talent available to them and it is a huge surprise that they are so low down in the table. Jay Simpson is yet to get off the mark, but his 25 league goals last season will be testament to how dangerous he will be for the Pompey defence. In reserve, they also have Ollie Palmer, and the ex-Havant & Waterlooville man scored a brace in the fixture last season.
Leyton Orient have been playing a 4-4-2 formation in their recent games, with Jay Simpson partnering Paul McCallum up front. Another ex-Hawk, Harry Cornick lines up on the right wing for them, while Jordan Bowery, who scored for Oxford at Fratton Park last season, is likely to line up on the left of midfield. Having said that, with it being the new manager’s first match in charge, Orient could change their system altogether.
We’ve seen you before…:
As well as having two aforementioned ex-Havant & Waterlooville players, Orient also have two ex-Pompey men. Paul McCallum’s loan spell was disrupted by disciplinary problems after he took a swing at a referee, but he has recovered from a cruciate ligament injury sustained early last season to score four goals so far this term. Orient also have Nigel Atangana on their books, who turned out for both Pompey and the Hawks before joining the O’s part way through last season.
Technically, Pompey have now lost three games on the bounce – two of which were at home – after defeats to Blackpool and Doncaster as well as losing on penalties to Reading under 23s in midweek. Pompey will need to bounce back from recent disappointments and secure their second away win of the season on Saturday. It is important that they get at least something from the match to get their promotion campaign back on track.
Paul Cook rarely deviates from his 4-2-3-1 formation, and I don’t see him doing so on Saturday. Matt Clarke and Curtis Main could retain their places from Tuesday night, but otherwise I am expecting a similar lineup to the one which lost out to Doncaster Rovers at Fratton Park last week. Kal Naismith will be sweating over whether he has done enough to retain his place in the team, but otherwise I am not anticipating more than a couple of changes. Gareth Evans will certainly line up at right-back after Adam Buxton suffered yet another injury setback in the Checkatrade Trophy. Here is my predicted lineup:
Teams often raise their game to impress a new manager, and I think that could happen on Saturday with Orient. However, I still expect the Blues to get something out of the match to end their run of defeats. I’m predicting an entertaining 2-2 draw on Saturday.
Man of the Match prediction:
Curtis Main was magnificent in midweek and I’m hoping that he can continue his goalscoring form from before his head injury. Cook has yet another striking dilemma, but I think he will drop Conor Chaplin after he seemed to be a bit leggy on Saturday in the match with Doncaster.
First goalscorer prediction:
Gareth Evans scored a brace in the fixture last year, and with his starting place for tomorrow secured, I can’t help but have a sneaky suspicion that he may open his account for the year. He has had limited scoring opportunities from right-back this season, but when a clear one comes along, you wouldn’t bet against him taking it!