Pompey will look to continue their final push for promotion this weekend when they travel to Victoria Park of Hartlepool in search of another win. The Blues currently have a six point cushion between themselves and Stevenage, and promotion looks to be within touching distance if they can avoid any more slip-ups in the remaining seven games.
Pools have been struggling all season and have never been too far from the bottom two, but it looks like they could secure their place in League Two next season in the coming weeks. They are eight points ahead of Newport with seven games remaining, so you would think that they are all but safe. However, their recent performances have been less than encouraging and the Monkey Hangers have won just three of their last ten league matches.
One to watch:
Pools were encouraged in the summer when they secured the signing of Pádraig Amond from Grimsby, as the striker was prolific in the National League last season. The Irishman has netted 13 times this season and will be the hosts main goal threat tomorrow. However, Pompey will also need to watch out for Nathan Thomas, who is a very skilful player on his day and has bagged nine goals in the league, including a stunning chip from outside the area which has been nominated for Mitre EFL Goal of the Year.
David Jones will probably line up in a 4-4-2 formation tomorrow as his side will look to remain compact in defence, while keeping this simple going forward by hitting the ball long to their strikers, Amond and Alessandra. In the reverse fixture at Fratton Park, Hartlepool came out and played for the point right from the opening minutes, so we must hope they do not go for the same tactics on their own patch.
We’ve seen you before…:
The only ex-Pompey man in the Pools’ ranks is goalkeeper, Trevor Carson, who put in a man of the match performance to foil Pompey when the sides last met. However, the Northern Irishman is injured for the rest of the season with a fractured arm so will take no part in the match. The other recognisable face is that of Hartlepool’s manager, Dave Jones, who Blues supporters might remember managing Cardiff in the 2008 FA Cup final at Wembley…
The Blues have been good of late, by and large, and but for a blip at Stevenage two weeks ago they have been doing exactly what is needed to secure promotion. Last week’s victory at home against Newport County was a little on the scrappy side, but performances do not matter at all at this point in the season as long as Pompey can grind out the required points total for automatic promotion.
On Pompey’s last away trip. Paul Cook experimented with a 3-5-2 system, but I am certain that he will stick with 4-2-3-1 for the visit to Hartlepool. I would expect a couple of changes to be made from the side which beat Newport, with Christian burgess returning from suspension to replace Tom Davies and Noel Hunt coming into the team to replace Eoin Doyle, who misses out through injury. This is my predicted lineup:
Pompey have done well when their two midfield talismans are available, in Kyle Bennett and Kal Naismith, and hopefully that will continue tomorrow. For me, the key to success will be to score an early goal, and if that happens I can see a big 4-0 win coming
Call me crazy, but I really fancy Noel Hunt to put in a performance tomorrow. The veteran striker has only scored once this season but he is regularly talked about as being a great influence in the changing room, and I can see him having an impact on the pitch as well as off it tomorrow.