Pompey have now had two weeks to mull over their defeat to Stevenage, in which there were more than a few talking points.  Not only did the match signify yet another example of the Blues taking one step forward and two steps back, but there was also a scrap in the changing room which led to two key players being withdrawn, one of which needing stitches.  The team will probably have rather had a match last week to move quickly onwards from the situation, but they will be glad to finally have the chance to put the Stevenage match behind them when they travel to Blundell Park tomorrow.

The opposition:

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Recent form:
Grimsby are currently in 11th place and are one of the many teams challenging for a place in the League Two play-offs.  They suffered a shock 3-2 defeat to Crawley Town in their last match which caused them to drop out of the top seven, but are now only two points outside the play-offs and still cause a considerable threat to the Blues.  A 3-0 win at Plymouth’s Home Park shows the Mariners are easily capable of beating the top teams so Pompey will be in for a tough game tomorrow.

One to watch:
Omar Bogle currently leads the League Two scoring charts with 16 league goals already this season.  He, along with Pádraig Amond, played a key part in Grimsby’s promotion season from the National League last season and he has had no trouble making the leap into the Football League this season.  He is Grimsby’s main goal threat and will be looking to capitalise on Pompey’s defensive vulnerabilities  at Blundell Park.

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Tactics:
Grimsby tend to line up in a traditional 4-4-2 formation and, like many teams, will look to dominate Pompey physically.  Many of the Mariners’ players played for them when they were in the non-league system, where the football is very physical and it is almost impossible to win without the vast majority of players being over six feet tall.  This is likely to mean that they will dwarf the Blues almost to a man and that Pompey will need to make the most of their superior speed and skill.

We’ve seen you before…:
Ben Davies established himself as a fan favourite at Fratton Park and there was much disappointment when he announced that he was leaving on a free transfer.  However, he will not be lining up tomorrow as a calf injury has kept him out of the fixture.  There was a chance that he would recover in time but it was announced by Marcus Bignot this week that he is not yet fit enough to face the Blues.

 

 

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Pompey:

Recent form:
It seems like I write this every week, but Pompey have been very up and down recently.  A superb win at Kenilworth Road was followed up by defeat at Fratton Park.  Pompey had a break last Saturday and will need to make the most of their week off in order to finally solve the riddling problem of inconsistency.

Tactics:
This will probably be a very short entry, as Paul Cook has already confirmed that, barring any late injuries, he will name an unchanged side tomorrow.  The main talking point is that Christian Burgess and Michael Doyle will both retain their places after their dressing room bust up.  This will mostly be greeted with relief by Pompey supporters, but there were a few who believed that both players should be sacked.  Here is my ‘predicted’ lineup:

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Predictions:

Score prediction:
I am backing Pompey to bounce back from their humiliating defeat in their last match with a win at Grimsby.  The Blues have developed a reputation for performing better against the better sides in the division, as was seen by the performance at Luton, so I can see a 2-1 win coming tomorrow.

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Man of the Match prediction:
Michael Smith has been in scintillating form recently, coming second in the League Two player of the month for November.  He scored for the third game running against Stevenage and was Pompey’s best player by far, so I think he will continue his fine form with a match-winning display.

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First goalscorer prediction:
Even when he is not playing especially well, Carl Baker can often be relied upon to find the net.  I would not be surprised to see him register tomorrow, as his shooting poses a threat whenever he has the ball within 25 yards of the opposition goal.

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