Pompey go into Saturday’s match on the back of a 4-0 home win over Mansfield Town, not that you would know it from the reaction of some supporters. That win signalled the first home win in four games (not including the Checkatrade Trophy), but away form has not been a major problem of late and the Blues will hope to continue their winning run.
Newly promoted Cheltenham are struggling at the moment and are currently in 21st place in League Two. Having said that, they are enjoying a reasonable amount of success in the cup competitions, having won two and drawn to of their last five games in all competitions, most recently beating Crewe Alexandra 4-1 in an FA Cup replay on Tuesday.
One to watch:
Cheltenham will be much reliant on the core of players who won therm promotion from the National League last season, and chief among those is Robert Dickie. The midfielder is currently serving his second loan spell at the Robins from his parent club, Reading.
Cheltenham tend to pack the midfield in an effort to make themselves hard to break down. This sees them operate with a 4-5-1 formation, which usually differs from Pompey’s 4-2-3-1 as the ‘creative’ players are given less licence to get forward. This could make for an abrasive battle which will be decided by one or two goals.
We’ve seen you before…:
Remarkably, I can’t find a single Pompey connection in the Cheltenham squad. Believe me, it wasn’t for wont of trying!
Away form has not been a problem of late, with wins coming against Cambridge and Leyton Orient in a three game unbeaten run on the road. More of the trouble has come at home, but with Pompey now having won two on the bounce there as well, Paul Cook will just be looking to continue the performances from recent outings.
Paul Cook has suggested that he is unlikely to tinker with his team too much after the good win last weekend, which is unsurprising to most fans. I am expecting an unchanged team to be named, with Conor Chaplin keeping his place being the only real point of discussion. Amine Linganzi will serve the second game of a three match ban but otherwise everybody is available or selection. Here is my predicted lineup:
Unfortunately I am expecting a very close scrappy game, but I reckon the Blues could come out 1-0 winners at Whaddon Road. Although the tie is unlikely to be a footballing classic, I’m sure Pompey fans would be very happy with that result…booo!
Man of the Match prediction:
Christian Burgess put in a man of the match performance when the Blues travelled to Cambridge and I think the conditions in Cheltenham will be very similar to those at the Abbey – though hopefully without a red card. I have a feeling Burgess may excell again on Saturday to keep the Pompey defence tight.
First goalscorer prediction:
As I said, Saturday’s match is likely to be a very tight one which will be decided late on. What I can see happening is a late, scrappy Noel Hunt goal after he opened his account this time last week.