Pompey will need to move on quickly from the disappointing draw with Barnet at the Hive as they approach what is, undoubtedly, the biggest game of the season so far.  They travel to Brunton Park on Saturday to play against Carlisle in a match which will be key in the race for automatic promotion.

The opposition:

Recent form:
Carlisle are third in League Two going into Saturday’s game – the last automatic promotion place – and have won four, drawn three, and lost three of the last ten league games.  Their form has been slightly indifferent of late and they look the most likely out of the top three to drop out of the automatic promotion places.

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Image courtesy of Carlisle United FC

One to watch:
As with all teams at the top end of the league, Carlisle have several players who are a danger to their opposition.  Nicky Adams is one of the better attacking midfielders in the league and is towards the top of the assist charts, while also scoring twice.  However, more recently their main man has been Jamie Proctor, who has scored three goals since his loan arrival on deadline day.

Tactics:

The Cumbrians tend to line up in a 4-2-3-1 system which is similar to how Pompey set up.  Proctor will lead the line for them, while a three of John O’Sullivan, Reggie Lambe, and Nicky Adams in support.  They will probably keep the ball on the floor and go out to win the match, which should contribute to a great match.

We’ve seen you before…:
The only Pompey connection in the Carlisle ranks is Jamie Proctor, who Pompey were pursuing back in January.  He was Paul Cook’s back up to Eoin Doyle if he couldn’t get that deal over the line, but the Irishman joined the Blues allowing Proctor to move Carlisle.  It will be interesting to see whether who comes out on top out of Proctor and Doyle.

Leyton Orient v Carlisle United
Image courtesy of News and Star

Pompey:

Recent form:
The Blues have won two, drawn one, and lost two of the last five matches and are currently fifth in League Two.  They are six points off Carlisle in third, though they have a game in hand.  Therefore, if Pompey win their game in hand and can secure a victory on saturday they will finally find themselves in the automatic promotion positions.

Tactics:
The Blues have named the same team for the last three matches, but made a double substitution and changed shape at half time against Barnet so it is not a given that the same eleven will start against Carlisle.  In fact, I am expecting Carl Baker to replace Jamal Lowe after the young attacking midfielder has had a couple of off-colour performances in recent weeks.  This is my predicted lineup:

 

Predictions:

Score prediction:
This game could really make or break Pompey’s season and, fortunately, the Blues have a good record against the better teams.  If Pompey lose then unfortunately I think their hopes of automatic promotion hopes are over for another year, but a draw would not be the end of the world.  That is what I am predicting: a 1-1 draw that keeps the promotion race wide open.

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Image courtesy of portsmouth.co.uk

Man of the match prediction:
Pompey have been waiting to see the best of Eoin Doyle since his arrival at the club and this is exactly the kind of match in which his quality could show through.  Doyle has so far returned one goal from four matches so his prolific record suggests that he is due a couple at the weekend.

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