Pompey go into their match with Yeovil at Fratton Park with promotion very much in their hands as they look to maintain their six point gap advantage over Stevenage. With Pompey’s superior goal difference, four more wins would guarantee automatic promotion in third place so Paul Cook’s team will be desperate to get three points closer to that target on Saturday.
The Glovers have very little to play for at this stage of the season and sit in 18th place, ten points above the relegation zone and 16 points off the play-offs. Their lack of incentive to get points on the board has been seen by the fact that they have won just one game out of their last ten. They did come close to getting another win a couple of weeks ago, but ended up drawing 3-3 with Exeter at St James’ Park despite being 0-3 up with 88 minutes on the clock.
One to watch:
François Zoko has a habit of scoring against Pompey, and the Blues will need to be careful that they do not give any easy chances to the striker who has scored seven goals this season. Tom Eaves is likely to partner Zoko up front, but he has been disappointing this season and has scored just four goals from his 30-odd appearances.
Yeovil are likely to line up in a variant of 4-4-2 which will see Zoko dropping back to help in the midfield, leaving Eaves to play as a lone striker for long periods of the match. When Yeovil came to Fratton Park last season they sat back behind the ball and ground out an excruciating goalless draw but I am optimistic that, seeing as getting one extra point would not make a huge difference to Yeovil’s season at this point, they might come out and make a game of it.
We’ve seen you before…:
Since the departure of Izale McLeod the Glovers don’t have any ex-Pompey players, but they do have a Pompey fan in their ranks. Matt Butcher is likely to play tomorrow having grown up in Portsmouth but being rejected by Pompey’s academy after a trial. Several of his family members are season ticket holders at Fratton Park and it will surely be a proud moment for him when he lines up on the pitch before the game. The central midfielder is likely to get a reasonably reception from the Pompey fans as it is no fault of his own that he isn’t playing for his boyhood club.
The Blues have won two games on the bounce against Newport County and Hartlepool, neither of which were the most convincing performances. However, they have taken fifteen points from the last available 18 which has to go down as good form. If they can continue that level of performance tomorrow then they will be confident of securing another win.
The injuries are starting to pile up for Pompey, especially in the striking department, at this stage of the season. During the week Paul Cook confirmed that Eoin Doyle needs surgery on his groin and will miss the rest of the season, while Noel Hunt could easily be out for the remainder of the campaign if he fails to recover quickly from his dislocated shoulder. At Hartlepool Kal Naismith led the line in place of Hunt, while Gary Roberts came off the bench to play as a very advanced midfielder. I would expect that to be how Pompey start tomorrow, while Carl Baker will probably take a place on the bench as he returns from a hamstring injury. Here is my predicted lineup:
I think Pompey will slip up once more at home before the end of the season, but I’m not expecting it to be this weekend. However, I would not expect Pompey to get an emphatic win either and feel they will probably have to settle for a valuable 1-0 victory.
Key man prediction:
Jamal Lowe has been slightly underwhelming for me in recent weeks, but if he starts tomorrow I can see him having a massive impact. He scored a wonderful solo goal for the under 23s in the Premier League Cup on Monday night so hopefully he can produce something special to score his first ever goal in professional football.