Pompey’s last match was a very useful 1-0 away win at Grimsby Town after a late Kal Naismith free kick snatched the points at Blundell Park. That result signalled the moving on from all that happened when Pompey hosted Stevenage two weeks previously, and will hopefully mark the beginning of a good run of results.
It’s fair to say the Pools haven’t had it all their own way recently, having lost all of their last five competitive matches. During that time they have conceded 15 goals while scoring once themselves. Their most recent outing was a disappointing 5-0 defeat to Cambridge United. However, they still only sit 19th in the table and will be looking to better their form to avoid a relegation fight.
One to watch:
Hartlepool only really have two players who are living up to their pre-season billing. They are Nathan Thomas and Padraig Amond, both of whom have registered seven goals so far this season. However, Thomas is sidelined for Saturday’s match through injury so Hartlepool will be putting much of their faith in Amond to take any chances that come their way.
Hartlepool tend to line up in a 4-5-1 system with Amond leading the line on his own. They tend to play a direct style of football and largely rely on their physicality to make up for their lack of talent on the ball. When they came to Fratton Park last season they tried to stifle the game so we could see similar tactics tomorrow.
We’ve seen you before…:
Hartlepool’s only Pompey connection to my knowledge is their first choice goalkeeper, Trevor Carson. The Northern Ireland international spent a season on loan at Pompey in 2013-14 and was one of the key performers in the Pompey team that season.
Pompey won their most recent game, recovering from a poor result against Stevenage so they will be looking to push on. However, with Pompey form is practically irrelevant because they are so unpredictable.
Pompey are likely to name an unchanged eleven from the Grimsby match last week. There are no new injury issues going into the match, and the only notable absence will be Jack Whatmough, who is not yet fit enough to be on the bench. If I was Paul Cook I would consider dropping Gary Roberts, but that is very unlikely to happen. I feel that he would benefit from a rest and a break would see him return to his best form. Instead I believe Milan Lalković or Kal Naismith should be given Roberts’ place in the side for Saturday but, as I said, Cook is about a likely to drop Roberts as Nigel Farage is to run for leader of European Parliament. Here is my predicted lineup:
Last time Hartlepool came to Fratton Park they fell to a 4-0 defeat with Caolan Lavery, Gareth Evans, and Marc McNulty scoring, as well as an own goal. I am predicting a similar result tomorrow as the Blues could simply be too strong for the visitors.
Man of the match prediction:
Michael Smith didn’t net on Saturday for the first time in a while. Previous to that he scored in three consecutive matches and I think he will get on the scoresheet tomorrow to continue his good form.
First goalscorer prediction:
Michael Doyle is yet to score this season but he is always capable of popping up with a long range effort. He is a real fighter(!) and I would not be surprised to see him open his scoring account for the season with the opener tomorrow.