Tranmere vs Portsmouth Preview
Can Pompey topple the table toppers?
Pompey travel to Prenton Park tomorrow looking to build on the last gasp draw at Coventry a fortnight ago as the bid to escape relegation begins.
Simon Eastwood looks likely to start in goal for Portsmouth after Alex Cisak was recalled by Oldham but could face competition from ex-Swindon keeper Phil Smith who has signed a one-month deal.
Guy Whittingham has a fully fit squad to choose from and may give Jake Jervis a start against the club he was on loan to earlier in the season.
Tranmere have been hit with a whole host of injuries with midfielder James Wallace the latest to be sidelined. The influential Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro is still injured whilst centre back Ben Gibson is also a doubt.
It's funny what a last minute equaliser can do for the spirits of Pompey fans. Izale McLeod's goal at Coventry has seen optimism rise and it seems like our fans are more confident of a result tomorrow than those of the League One leaders.
Reasons for this could be that Rovers have failed to score in their last two home games and have only picked up two points from the last nine. Add to that their injury problems and you can see why Tranmere fans are concerned.
If any Superwhites fans are reading this, then they'd be happy to know that their poor run of form still pails in comparison to ours. The draw at Coventry ended a run of seven straight defeats for Pompey who haven't won since beating Shrewsbury on October 20th.
Scoring has been a problem since then and so it's about time that others stepped up to the plate to at least relieve some of the pressure on McLeod. If I was Guy Whittingham, I'd be tempted to play Jervis from the start as he was a nightmare when playing against Pompey for Carlisle earlier in the season.
However, judging by comments in the media it seems like Paul Benson is set to continue up front. Personally, having not seen a Portsmouth match since the FA Cup defeat to Notts County, I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do.
The same can be said for Nathaniel Mendez-Liang and I'm also excited to see Ricardo Rocha return to the side. Here's hoping he can marshall what has been a very porous defence this campaign. A clean sheet would be wonderful, given how Pompey have only kept two all season.
Let's not kid ourselves. A draw here is a good result and despite the optimism following the Ricoh robbery, there are still many problems with this Portsmouth team that are set for a struggle into the winter months.
However, football is a funny game and perhaps that McLeod goal will renew hope and draw parallells with those of a certain Pedro Mendes years ago.
Predicted Starting Line-Ups
GK: Owain Fon WILLIAMS
RB: Danny HOLMES
CB: Ian GOODISON
CB: Ash TAYLOR
LB: Zoumana BAKAYOGO
RM: Adam McGURK
CM: Danny HARRISON
CM: Liam PALMER
LM: Andy ROBINSON
CF: Jake CASSIDY
CF: Michael O'HALLORAN
GK: Simon EASTWOOD
RB: Mustapha DUMBUYA
CB: Lubomir MICHALIK
CB: Ricardo ROCHA
LB: Adam WEBSTER
RM: Lee WILLIAMSON
CM: Brian HOWARD
CM: Johnny ERTL
LM: Scott ALLAN
CF: Paul BENSON
CF: Izale McLEOD
Last Time: Tranmere Rovers 0 Portsmouth 1 (League Cup Second Round - 21/09/2004)
A single Diomansy Kamara strike in the second half was enough to see Premier League Pompey advance in the Carling Cup at the expense of Brian Little's men.
Personally I'm looking forward to watching my first game in over a month. Despite the optimism, it'd be typical of Pompey to bring us back down to earth with a crashing thud. This is likely to be a narrow defeat.
Tranmere Rovers 2 Portsmouth 1
Source: Fratton Faithful
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