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Portsmouth vs Rochdale Preview
Can Pompey's new faces revive the team?
Guy Whittingham will be hoping that his three new signings will make an impact as Pompey host in-form Rochdale tomorrow.
Whittingham has confirmed that Trevor Carson will make his debut between the sticks and may also hand Therry Racon and new arrival Gavin Mahon starting places as he looks to strengthen the midfield with Simon Ferry hamstrung.
Andy Barcham is also an injury doubt and Yassin Moutaouakil serves the last of his three game ban but Joe Devera and Shaun Cooper are back in contention.
Dale boss Keith Hill is likely to name an unchanged eleven as his team have won their last four games but striker George Donnelly is banned.
Many Pompey fans were luck enough not to travel to York and witness one of the worst performances ever produced by a Portsmouth team. Saturday's match will offer an opportunity for many of those underperforming players to redeem themselves but couldn't be facing much tougher opposition in League Two.
It will be interesting to see who gets dropped after the debacle in North Yorkshire. Will Guy have the balls to drop his captain who has been well off the pace this season and will he change formation again to try and contain Rochdale?
We all know what Racon is all about and fans of other clubs have assured us that despite his age, Mahon is a tireless performer who works hard and will bring some much needed steel and experience to the centre of the park. A screamer a la Watford away in 2007 would also be very welcome.
With Barcham doubtful it looks like Ricky Holmes will move to left midfield with Jed Wallace out on the right, which would mean Patrick Agyemang and David Connolly will continue up top despite underperforming in the last two matches. Again, we'll see if Whittingham has the bottle to drop one of them and revert back to his more successful 4-4-1-1 formation.
The Pompey manager will have to strike a balance between the new players/benched players and those that played at York. Too few changes and it's likely that the same team will lose again but too many and the team becomes even more disjointed and will struggle to keep hold of the ball.
This is a huge game for Whittingham. There were boos aplenty after the final whistle at York and should his team lose again tomorrow and turn in the same turgid performance then he will be under serious pressure and the proverbial knives will be out in full force.
And it may well be another defeat given how well Rochdale are playing. Unlike Pompey they have finally settled and look like a side that will challenge for automatic promotion simply because they are a solid unit that works well as a team.
A win would be massive for everyone at Portsmouth but it will not come easy.
Predicted Starting Line-Ups
GK: Trevor CARSON
RB: Shaun COOPER
CB: Bondz N'GALA
CB: Sonny BRADLEY
LB: Marcos PAINTER
RM: Jed WALLACE
CM: Therry RACON
CM: Johnny ERTL
LM: Ricky HOLMES
CF: Patrick AGYEMANG
CF: David CONNOLLY
GK: Josh LILLIS
RB: Rhys BENNETT
CB: Jack O'CONNELL
CB: Olly LANCASHIRE
LB: Michael ROSE
RM: Matt DONE
CM: Matthew LUND
CM: Gary DICKER
LM: Ian HENDERSON
CF: Scott HOGAN
CF: Joe BUNNEY
Last Time: Portsmouth 3 Rochdale 0 (Division Four - 09/02/1980)
Joe Laidlaw scored twice and Jeff Hemmerman grabbed the other as Frank Burrows's men ran out comfortable winners.
The York defeat would have drained confidence and despite the new arrivals Pompey could not have picked worse opposition to bounce back against. The misery is likely to continue.
Portsmouth 1 Rochdale 2
Source: Fratton Faithful
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