The Promotion Race: Peterborough host Pompey in the clash of the weekend while Coventry look to remain top at Ipswich
We take a look at the weekend’s fixtures with Coventry looking to remain top the league when they visit a very much out-of-form Ipswich Town.
The clash of the weekend though, is undoubtedly at London Road, where Peterborough take on Portsmouth. A defeat for the Posh will put a big spanner in their play-off bid, while a defeat for Pompey may mean they have to settle for a play-off place this season.
Fleetwood v Blackpool
Our Prediction: 2-1
We face Blackpool at home on Saturday, after a win against Ipswich four days prior. The fitness should be fine to continue our run, if the same starting 11 which has also remained unbeaten since it was employed remains.
Blackpool come into this fixture as the underdogs in 13th that’s seven places behind Fleetwood. I see absolutely no threat to our unbeaten run and I am confident it will be extended.
They have just brought in a new manager, Neil Critchley who has just left his role as manager of Liverpool’s U23’s. It’s his first game in charge and will probably be somewhat shaky as we have already met in the Leasing.com trophy, Town winning on pens.
We should easily push Blackpool aside in our promotion push and will win 3-0 I don’t believe they have much attacking threat that can challenge our wall like defence. Lewie Coyle, Barrie McKay and Wes Burns with the goals.
Ipswich v Coventry
Our Prediction: 0-2
Backing the Blues: High flying Coventry up next. What a time to be alive…
Ipswich, who may or may not be led out by Paul Lambert, look set to take another loss on their record as their home form gets worse and worse. I honestly am getting so so so frustrated with the lack of effort being shown by 75% of our players and the lack of confidence Lambert is showing making 6 changes midweek.
Surely it can only get better but it won’t be this week for Ipswich Town.
NiiLampteyShow: On Sunday I went down to the League Cup final. Watching Man City joylessly grind out a 3rd consecutive League Cup win proved to be a chilling portent of the inevitable wave of unparalleled success that Coventry City are about to embark upon.
Rochdale couldn’t stop us. Rotherham couldn’t beat us. Sunderland couldn’t beat us. If you extrapolate this out to all of the football teams in the universe I expect we will be winning the Champions League for the third time in a row within 4 years, with Cov fans barely looking up from their faggot and pea batches as we batter Gran Canaria in the final. (BTW In my predicted future the Coronavirus has wiped out all football from mainland Europe and only isolated island based teams survive.)
All in all it leaves me simply feeling sorry for Ipswich. The last thing they need with everything they’ve got going on is football’s greatest juggernaut coming along and ruthlessly scoring one goal against them. Football should be an entertaining competition between two equally matched teams but let’s face it. This is going to be a massacre.
Unless Ipswich get Warnock in or sack Lambert. Which I think will probably happen. Then I think it will be 1-1
Prediction: 0-1 unless Warnock comes in!
MK Dons v Doncaster
Our Prediction: 1-1
Into the Empty Net: Last Saturday’s 3-1 win over Wycombe was a morale-booster and should give the players a bit of belief back heading into a tricky away game.
We’ve not got a brilliant record away this season but we won at Milton Keynes last season and should feel capable of beating a side who have been in the bottom six all season. The home game ended in a 1-1 draw and we were not at our best in that game just before Christmas, so improving on that display is a must. Rhys Healey will be a danger we did not have to face last time, he’s in form so our defence will need to be ready.
Rovers fans got a first look at January signing Jason Lokilo against Wycombe and the young Crystal Palace loanee looked an exciting prospect on the right wing. Soon after coming on he put in a lovely cross which was turned in for an own goal in the end to seal the win, and if he is given another chance here expect him to have an impact again. Devante Cole is beginning to show some positive signs in attack as well and will be relishing a chance to play against his old club with Fejiri Okenabirhie still suspended.
Peterborough v Portsmouth
Our Prediction: 1-1
Jarred Farmer: Portsmouth are in decent form overall, they’ll be eyeing up the title for sure. Pompey sit in third, we are down in eighth but with only three points separating us.
We’ve not given up on automatic promotion yet and that is certainly the aim. Saturday will be a very tough game but one that’ll test our metal. We’ve done fantastically well against the top teams in this league in recent weeks and with our star player and the leagues’ best player Ivan Toney back available for selection I’m feeling optimistic.
Sam Stone: Pompey make the trip to Peterborough this weekend, in what is a crucial clash in the tight promotion race. Kenny Jackett’s men are coming off a commendable performance against Arsenal in the FA cup. The blues rested plenty of key players in the 2-0 defeat to the Gunners. Ronan Curtis, Tom Naylor, Sean Raggett and John Marquis were all rested for this weekend’s trip to Posh. The squad depth that Pompey have could potentially show its importance, where in previous seasons, the lack of depth has been the Blues downfall.
For me, Saturday is make or break regarding automatic promotion. The top eight sides seem to be consistently winning and at this point most games are must win, especially against a promotion rival. A win would heap more pressure on Rotherham, with Pompey having a game in hand on Paul Warne’s men. Performances in recent weeks haven’t been as crisp as they were at the start of 2020, but they are still grinding out results, especially at home. Away from home has been a problem area, with two defeats in our two previous away games, albeit to in-form Fleetwood and table-toppers Coventry. There has been in issue creating clear-cut chances away from home and when Pompey fall behind they very rarely turn the game around. Unfortunately for Pompey, they will have to find a consistent way of winning on the road if they want to maintain an automatic challenge. Relying on their imperious home form will not be enough in this tight promotion battle.
Looking at the game on Saturday, for me Peterborough boast the most attacking talent in the division. Dembele, Eisa, Toney and Szmodics would get into most sides at this level. Pompey will have to build from a solid defensive foundation if they want to get the win they so badly need. Jack Whatmough is set to make his first League start of the season, replacing the suspended Christian Burgess, who has been immense so far this season. However, Whatmough kept Burgess out of the side for the majority of last season before his untimely injury and is a capable centre-half. The academy graduate is comfortable in possession, composed on the ball and has unflappable decision-making. This is a good example of how Pompey’s squad depth could really benefit them. If Whatmough stays fit and continues from where he left off, he would be our go-to CB.
Pompey will also have a fit and rested Ronan Curtis along with captain Tom Naylor to come back into the starting eleven. Curtis tormented Posh last year and will be crucial if Pompey want to get a win this time round. I feel that the two sides could potentially cancel each other out for large parts of the game, with Peterborough putting Pompey under pressure but Pompey remaining defensively strong. Personally, I believe Pompey have more than enough to hurt Posh going forward and I haven’t been overall convinced by Peterborough’s defence.
Given that they have had two disappointing results in their last two in games I feel there is an opportunity for Pompey to put more pressure on Posh. I think Pompey will edge a very tight and cagey affair 1-0, with Ronan Curtis getting the all-important goal in the first half.
Rochdale v Rotherham
Our Prediction: 1-2
Andrew Topham: The Millers lost top spot last Sunday after 2 successive draws and a Coventry home win against Sunderland. Rochdale is always a tough place to go for us but we have had some decent results there in recent years including a Richard Wood inspired win on the way to promotion the last time around.
I’m expecting us to go with an unchanged side, meaning top scorer Ladapo will get his third straight start ahead of Vassell. Ladapo scored his 17th of the season last weekend but should have had 18 as he miraculously managed to hit the post with the full onion bag gaping. Rochdale is always a good away day and a healthy away following in excess of 2000 is expected. This includes my lucky omen friend Paul from Turkey who is flying in (coronavirus permitting) to Manchester to roar us on.
Shrewsbury v Oxford
Our Prediction: 2-1
Dale Ventham: Having made it four wins in succession with a hard-fought victory over strugglers Southend United, we turn our attention to a visit to Shrewsbury.
The win against the Shrimpers moved us back into the playoffs, but following Fleetwood Towns’ win over Ipswich on Tuesday night, we have subsequently dropped to 7th.
It’s a tough place to visit, but having lost just once from our last six meetings against the Shrews, I can see another positive result here this weekend.
Sunderland v Gillingham
Our Prediction: 4-1
SunderLad: Pegged back: Sunderland AFC face an in-form Gillingham at the Stadium of Light on Saturday. They will be desperate to make amends for the painful away defeat at Coventry/Birmingham and reapply the pressure on the top two.
Phil Parkinson has played unchanged starting XIs over recent games. Maybe he needs to freshen things up a bit and go back to the drawing board. A lot of Sunderland fans still have a glimmer of hope for Will Grigg. Maybe he should be given a chance on Saturday.
The crowd noise will be vital. 30,000+ expected. That might be the difference.
Wycombe – Free week
Wycombe were due to play Bury this weekend, with The Wycombe Way wishing to pay tribute to all those at Bury. We at TOTT, and all of our ‘experts’, would also like to send our best wishes and hope to see the club rise again.
This weekend was sent to be our home fixture against Bury, meaning obviously a free weekend for Wycombe.
I can therefore however talk about the good work that the fans of Bury have been doing recently to try and ensure that football returns to the town from next season.
Their application to play in the North West Counties Football League is being considered, meaning they’ll find themselves in Step 6 of the league pyramid, and their application to play in the FA Vase has also been submitted in the past few days.
Fingers crossed there’s some good times ahead for Bury fans after a many months of turmoil. Just keep Steve Dale as far away from it all as possible.