Pompey recovered in the best way possible from defeat at Doncaster Rovers with a win at home to Leyton Orient last Saturday. Now they will look to continue with more of the same as they embark on their travels once more with the short trip to Crawley this weekend.
The Red Devils are in better form than they are used to as they have taken nine points from their last five games. They have won two matches on the bounce, firstly against Yeovil Town and then against Hartlepool United so, although they are down in 13th, Pompey will have to be careful that they don’t become complacent.
One to watch:
James Collins is undoubtedly the key man in Crawley’s ranks, with twelve goals already in the league this season. The next highest scorer has just three league goals so Collins is central to Crawley’s ambitions for survival this season. Collins has scored three goals in his last five appearances and will pose a real threat to the Blues.
Crawley could line up with either a 3-5-2 or a 4-5-1 system, depending on how defensively they want to set up. In this fixture last season Crawley played what is probably the most defensive tactics I have ever seen and ground out a 0-0 draw, so I hope for the sake of all the spectators that they choose to go for the win this time around.
Pompey have suffered just two defeats in their last ten games on the road and will look to secure another win to keep the pressure on Carlisle. The Leyton Orient match was one of the best first half performances seen at Fratton Park this season, so as long as the Blues can recreate that performance, as well as improve their finishing, they will be fine.
Gareth Evans limped off at half-time in the Leyton Orient match but it looks as if he will be fit to continue at right-back on Saturday. It will be interesting to see whether Paul Cook reverts to a 4-2-3-1 system or sticks with the 4-4-2 formation they used against Orient. The other possible change would be whether Nicke Kabamba makes the match day 18 after his arrival from Hampton & Richmond Borough. Personally, I think Cook will field an unchanged team.
I’m predicting Pompey to come out on top on Saturday with a 2-1 win. The performance against the O’s made me feel that the squad is really starting to gel and that Pompey fans might be treated to some more consistent displays in the near future.
Man of the match prediction:
A brace from Conor Chaplin won the match against Leyton Orient, but it is his strike partner who I think will be the match winner this weekend. Although Michael Smith is not a prolific goalscorer, he offers a lot to the team and could prove vital against a physical Crawley side.
First goalscorer prediction:
Unfortunately I would not be surprised to see Pompey go behind at the Checkatrade.com stadium, and the prime candidate would have to be James Collins. He has scored goals wherever he has gone in his career and will score any chances he gets on Saturday.