Pompey will win promotion if they win at Notts County tomorrow and Luton fail to win their Easter Monday game against Mansfield, the Blues will guarantee promotion to League One. 4,500 Pompey fans are making the trip to Nottingham, and they would be delighted if they could be there as their side seal promotion.
The Magpies have seen a vast improvement in form of late and have suffered just two defeats in their last 13 matches. This upturn in form has been thanks, in no small part, to new manager, Kevin Nolan.
One to watch:
By far the biggest name in the County ranks is Shola Ameobi, who has a wealth of experience in the Premier League with Newcastle United. He has been in good goalscoring form and the Magpies will be pleased that Nolan was able to use his Newcastle connections to bring the striker to the club. However, the chief threat is likely to be Jon Stead, who is a proven scorer at this level and has scored 14 goals this term.
The Magpies will line up in a 4-4-2 system and, while they are not renowned for their attacking football, their recent scoring record suggests that they will come at the Blues now that they have nothing to lose. They have scored in their last seven matches and Nolan seems to be employing an attacking style with his new team, which will hopefully make for a good team tomorrow.
We’ve seen you before…:
Two ex-Pompey players currently play for Notts County, in Richard Duffy and Carl Dickinson. Duffy was part of Pompey’s squad in the Premier League years, but only made a couple of appearances in his spell from 2004 to 2009. Dickinson, by contrast, spent two loan spells at Fratton Park, once in 2010-11 in the Championship, and for one month in 2012 in League One. Dickinson was a popular character at Fratton Park as supporters recognised the effort he put into his performances, even if he is not the most talented player to walk the earth.
Pompey come into the match on the back of their 1-1 draw with Plymouth on Good Friday and are looking to continue their form tomorrow. The Blues have suffered just two defeats in their last 14 games and have won five of their last six away matches. More of the same would be very welcome from the Blues’ point of view.
The last two games have seen Pompey use Kal Naismith as a striker with Gary Roberts supporting him from an advanced midfield role. However, Roberts has been replaced by Conor Chaplin early in the second half in both matches so it is always possible that Paul Cook will opt to start with a recognised striker tomorrow. Realistically I would be surprised if any changes were made to the team which played Plymouth.
Pompey never seem to do things the easy way so I would not be at all surprised if the Blues slip up tomorrow. However, the good recent form should be enough to ensure that Pompey don’t lose. I’m going for a 2-2 draw at Meadow Lane.
Kal Naismith was less effective on Friday than he had been in the previous couple of months so it could be time for Pompey to rely on someone else for match-winning performances. Carl Baker has not been in the best form of his career recently but I feel he might be vital to the Blues’ performance tomorrow.