The Blues have now had two weeks off due to their last match against Crawley being postponed due to a frozen pitch, so will go into tomorrow’s match with Exeter well rested and ready to put in a solid performance.

The opposition:

Recent form:
City have been on fine form of late and are on an unbeaten run of nine matches.  Furthermore, they have taken 22 points from those nine games and will be very keen to make it 25 from ten after Saturday’s match.  They have been free scoring, netting 22 times in their past ten games so the Blues’ defence will surely be in for a tough test.

91353207_reuben_reid_rex2
Image courtesy of BBC Sport

One to watch:
Reuben Reid is no stranger to anyone at Pompey, having been linked with the club almost non-stop since 2014 and scoring a hat-trick at Fratton Park for Plymouth no so long ago.  It seems like fate for him to score tomorrow and the Pompey will have to be wary that they don’t allow that to happen.

paul-tisdale-exeter_3100023
Image courtesy of Sky Sports

Tactics:
Paul Tisdale is the second longest-serving manager in the Football League and so has plenty of experience at this level.  The way he has been lining up recently is in a 4-2-3-1 system, with Ollie Watkins playing just behind Reid in the number ten position.  Liam McAlinden and Lloyd James form the two holding midfielders and the backbone of the side.

holmes-4x3125-2386948_478x359
Image courtesy of Exeter City FC

We’ve seen you before…:
Lee Holmes is the only ex-Pompey man in the Exeter ranks, with the winger having spent just over a month on loan at Fratton Park in 2014.  He has returned to Pompey on a couple of occasions since departing and has not enjoyed an overly generous reception on either occasion.  I wouldn’t expect much difference tomorrow if he plays.

Pompey:

Recent form:
The Blues will have some rustiness to shake off since their win at home to Leyton Orient two weeks ago.  This could work one of two ways: either they will start rapidly having had a break to freshen up their legs, or they will be very sluggish and will find it difficult to get into the game due to being out of practice.  Hopefully, it will be the former!

Tactics:
Gareth Evans has declared himself fit to start tomorrow despite limping off at half-time against Leyton Orient, so early signs are pointing towards an unchanged Pompey team.  Jamal Lowe made an impact off the bench last time out and he and Nicke Kabamba both played well in midweek, but I would be surprised to see either of them start.  Here is my predicted lineup:

IMG_0303.JPG

Predictions:

Score prediction:
Exeter are on good form and will prove to be a stern test of Pompey’s promotion credentials.  They have recovered well from a slow start and I am backing them to extend their unbeaten run to ten matches.  Fortunately I think this will be a draw rather than a defeat for Pompey, and I would probably take that before kick-off.  I’m going for a 1-1 draw.

Exeter City v Mansfield Town 171216
Image courtesy of Exeter Express & Echo

Man of the Match prediction:
Three youngsters will be being closely watched in tomorrow’s match: Conor Chaplin, Ollie Watkins, and Ethan Ampadu.  All three players are linked with moves to higher divisions this January, so I would not be surprised to see any of them catching the eye.  Unfortunately I feel this is likely to be Watkins who stars.

15965407_1810540885875548_530899393761468907_n
Image courtesy of portsmouth.co.uk

First goalscorer prediction:
I’m expecting Pompey’s key asset to register the first goal, as he can always be relied upon to take any chances he is given.  This was shown in the Leyton Orient match, when he missed a penalty but still went on to score a brace.  Hopefully he can continue his good goalscoring form.

Advertisements