Pompey go into their match against Stevenage at Fratton Park on Saturday on the back of what is surely their best performance of the season so far. They defeated Luton 3-1 at Kenilworth Road on Tuesday night, leapfrogging them in the process. If Pompey can put in the same standard of performance on Saturday the should have no trouble in getting past Stevenage, but it rarely seems to work out that way where Pompey are concerned.
Stevenage’s league position of 16th is slightly misleading as, with the league table being so congested and their having two matches in hand over most teams, a couple of wins would move them right up into play-off contention. Stevenage are unbeaten in five games in all competitions, most recently securing a 1-0 away win at Accrington Stanley’s Crown Ground.
One to watch:
With five goals so far this season, Stevenage’s dangerman is Matt Godden. He was signed in the summer after being prolific with Ebbsfleet in the National League South, and has taken to the Football League relatively easily since his arrival. Jobi McAnuff is another recognised name among the Stevenage squad, and could come off the bench to add some creativity to the midfield after impressing against Pompey for Leyton Orient last term.
Stevenage usually employ a 4-4-2 formation with Matt Godden and Ben Kennedy leading the line. However, against Pompey it is possible that Kennedy may drop back into a more defensive role and leave Godden up front on his own. Last season Stevenage were very combative and ended up securing a last minute equaliser from a set piece at Fratton Park (surely not?!)
We’ve seen you before…:
Stevenage are another side who have no ex-Pompey connections, although Fraser Franks is likely to start for them at centre-back and has formed the spine of my teams at both Yeovil and Alloa Athletic on Football Manager, so that has to count for something!
As usual, Pompey have been a little bit hit and miss of late. A good win against Mansfield was followed by an indifferent performance at Cheltenham, and now a great win over Luton has got Blues fans feeling optimistic all over again. Hopefully Pompey can finally get some consistency with their results and maintain the promotion push they have been tipped for.
The main talking point going into the Stevenage match is who will lead the line for Pompey. Conor Chaplin missed out on the trip to Luton after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season, seeing Michael Smith make a return to the starting lineup. Smith netted last week against Cheltenham and again at Kenilworth Road so it would be a difficult decision for Paul Cook to drop him, even though Chaplin has been a plentiful source of goals so far this season. Apart from that I can’t see any changes being made to the team which started at Luton.
As is so often the way with Pompey, a great result can be followed by a disastrous one, but I am predicting – or at least hoping – that Pompey will push on from their midweek success and make it five games unbeaten with a solid win.
Man of the match prediction:
Gary Roberts has had a slightly poor spell by his standards, so he is unlikely to be Pompey’s match winner. Instead, I have a feeling Michael Smith might put in another performance to quiet his critics after performing brilliantly on Tuesday night by all accounts.
First goalscorer prediction:
Pompey often see themselves going behind early on at home, and this may again be the case on Saturday. Ben Kennedy is always a threat with his pace and has previous experiences at Fratton Park, clinching a last minute equaliser when the sides met last season.