Big Match Preview – Portsmouth (A)
As it stands: Portsmouth 19-7-7-5 (10th, 28pts GD 5) | Ipswich 19-10-6-3 (2nd, 36pts, GD 14) Current form: Portsmouth LDWWW | Ipswich LDWDD
Last time out: Accrington Stanley 4 v 1 Portsmouth | Ipswich 1 v 2 Bristol Rovers
Head-to-head: P43|Ipswich W19| Portsmouth W12| D12
Previous meeting: Portsmouth 2 v 1 Ipswich Town, 19th January 2016 FA Cup R3 Replay
Town head to Fratton Park on Saturday looking to pick up three points for the first time since the 5th November. A win would ensure a top two place at Christmas but anything less than three points will open the door for Peterborough to overtake Town in the standings.
Portsmouth were brought back down to earth with a 4-1 defeat at Accrington Stanley, after a ten game unbeaten run. Kenny Jackett’s side were amongst the early season title favourites but started the season poorly and now find themselves in tenth, three points outside the play-offs.
Last Time Out
2 – 1 defeat against Bristol Rovers
Lambert shocked nearly all Town fans by going all out attack against inform Bristol Rovers at Portman Road. Cole Skuse filled in at right-back with Will Keane, James Norwood and Kayden Jackson all starting in attack.
It took Town some time to adjust to the new layout and by the times they did Bristol Rovers held a two goal lead. Town then attacked the Bristol Rovers goal and dominated much of the match, but could only muster the James Norwood reply on the half hour mark.
4-1 defeat at Accrington Stanley
Kenny Jackett made five changes from the side that drew with Peterborough on home soil the previous week. The entire defence had to change, with Brandon Haunstrup (knee) and Lee Brown (Achilles) both injured, Christian Burgess suspended and Oli Hawkins recently becoming father to a baby boy.
That meant there were recalls for James Bolton and Anton Walkes in the full-back slots and Sean Raggett in the middle, while Tom Naylor also dropped into the back-line. Ross McCrorie took the skipper’s midfield slot and Ryan Williams dropped to the bench to make way for Marcus Harness on the right.
Despite Ronan Curtis putting Pompey ahead, former Blue Ellis Harrison scored a bizarre own goal just before the break to level the game up. In the second half Stanley ran riot and the constant pressure was rewarded with three second half goals to secure the win and the three points.
Focus on Portsmouth
Last season: 4th in League One (88 points)
Manager: Kenny Jackett (June 2017)
Top scorer: Ronan Curtis – 8
Most Assists: John Marquis – 3
STAR PLAYER: Christian Burgess (DC)
After missing last weekends heavy defeat at Accrington Stanley through suspension, Burgess is likely to slot straight back in the Pompey team. The former Peterborough defender has been a virtual ever presence for Kenny Jackett’s side this term, making 18 appearances. A real rock in the heart of the defence who can also play abit if given the chance!
Well here goes nothing, Tomas Holy returned to the starting eleven against Bristol Rovers and could retain his place ahead of Will Norris.
In defence, Janoi Donacien and Luke Chambers look set to return and join Luke Woolfenden and Luke Garbutt in a four man defence.
That would allow Cole Skuse to move into a more familiar midfield role, partnering Flynn Downes. If Lambert opts with his 4-3-3 approach then Jon Nolan could also start in the midfield.
Lambert may select the more conventional wingers in a more defensive three man attack, with Gwion Edwards and Alan Judge starting alongside the lone striker, presumably Will Keane. Or Lambert could stick with the three out and out strikers with James Norwood and Kayden Jackson starting alongside Will Keane. That approach away from home would be a bold move.
Alternatively, Lambert could play Judge and Edwards as wide players in a 4-4-2 with two of Jackson, Keane and Norwood starting upfront.
Pompey are set to start with Jackett’s favoured 4-2-3-1 system.
Christian Burgess returns from suspension and is Pompey’s number one centre-back and will return to the starting eleven. Pompey are without both left-backs with medium/long term injuries to Lee Brown and Branden Haundstrup.
Rangers loanee Ross McCrorie will be filling in at right-back. The versatile Anton Walkes looks most likely to fill the vacant left-back role.
Burgess’ return means Tom Naylor will likely return to his favoured position in holding midfield alongside local lad Ben Close.
Ronan Curtis, John Marquis and Ryan Williams look the most likely make up the front three behind Ellis Harrison.
Town boss Paul Lambert believes his counterpart Kenny Jackett is doing a good job at Fratton Park: “It’s tough, it’s a really tough league. Kenny’s done a really good job there in the time he’s been there and the crowd are probably getting edgy and nervy and all those sorts of things after missing out last year.”
“We have to go down there and play our normal game and if we dominate the game then maybe their crowd might change.”
Lambert added: “The atmosphere is good there. I’ve been there a few times, so I know exactly what it’s like.”
On facing former striker Ellis Harrison, Lambert said: “Ellis was finding it hard to break into the team and people move on, and people stay at clubs. Portsmouth is his club now, I know he’s been in and out of it, so people move, and people stay.”
Pompey manager Kenny Jackett is looking to shore things up defensively after shipping four goals at Accrington Stanley last time out: “We need to learn from last week’s performance and try to shore things up because we were far too open. Before last Saturday at Accrington we’d built up some real momentum and so we can’t let that one game stop us.” Jackett told the Official Club Website.
“We don’t want a repeat of how we played there – particularly defensively – but the emphasis in training has been on Ipswich. They’re recently a Championship side and will be looking to get straight back up. Those expectations and their ability will, I’m sure, see them competing all the way through the season.
It is expected to be a sell-out at Fratton Park on Saturday, with Jackett hoping the atmosphere will result in a positive performance for his side: “The attendance is going to be a big one and it’ll be a great day if we can bring the fans into play by producing a really positive performance.
“We always analyse the opposition, but my thoughts are mainly about my own team and trying to put another run together. Before last Saturday at Accrington we’d built up some real momentum and so we can’t let that one game stop us.”
Man in the Middle
Saturday’s referee is Brett Huxtable from Devon, who has shown 61 yellow cards and two red in 18 games so far this season.
Huxtable’s last Blues game was the 3-1 Carabao Cup defeat at Luton in August. A game which he cautioned in Josh Emmanuel, Alan Judge, Jordan Roberts and Armando Dobra as well as one Luton player.