The Promotion Race: Pompey host Sunderland in the headline act this weekend in League One
We take a look at the weekend fixtures with Portsmouth v Sunderland the standout fixture. Elsewhere, leaders Rotherham host Burton Albion while resurgent Peterborough head to Portman Road in a clash between two play-off rivals.
Bristol Rovers v Coventry City
Our Prediction: 1-2
Nii Lamptey Show: The only team we play as frequently as Ipswich this season is Bristol Rovers and as sure as day follows night we find ourselves up against them again. They’re in disarray at the moment with a recently departed manager leaving them very unstable.
Their big player is Jonson Clarke Harris who blew hot (sometimes) and cold (a lot) for us but has been a big success for them creating his own goal of the season competition in the year he’s been there. Luckily for us he might be on the road again.
I never say this but I’m reasonably confident of a win. The big thing it will hinge on will be our ability to score. Two consecutive 0-0 draws highlight exactly where we are at the moment. Resolute defensively but with no magician who can pull something out of nothing and possibly a too few attacking players on the pitch.
Fleetwood v Doncaster
Our Prediction: 1-1
Knappers: Tough game Saturday. Doncaster a good side with great players. They have lacked goals that’s why they are not in the play-offs for me. But they are more then capable of coming and winning. I think / hope we might edge this one!
Adam Stubbings: Fleetwood have been a bit of a bogey side for us but we did see them off at home earlier in the season. I’m expecting a very tough game against a physical, nuisance set of players and a difficult setting. We should be confident after another win in midweek but Darren Moore admitted the performance wasn’t quite at the standard it needs to be, so we’ll be looking to improve against stronger opponents. Our expected new signings ahead of the game should give us a boost too.
Ipswich v Peterborough
Our Prediction: 2-1
Backing the Blues: Peterborough have a good record against the top sides and it scares me beating Wycombe and Rotherham. The game will be filled with passion with Posh being not too far off they’ll bring a few they’ve got some talent and definitely have a great system can see this one ending in an another draw for Town.
Jarred Farmer: We’ll not face much tougher opposition in this league than Ipswich, they gave us a good game at our place earlier this season with the game ending in a draw. We are on fire at the minute, Ipswich seem to have stopped their slide although they are coming off a loss to Rotherham.
MK Dons v Wycombe
Our Prediction: 1-1
George: Having beaten Milton Keynes in league and cup already this season, three points doesn’t seem a tall order for the Wanderers this weekend. The short trip to MK marks the Buckinghamshire derby, meaning a little more at stake than your standard league affair. Both teams head into the game off the back of midweek victories, with wins over Blackpool & Rochdale respectively.
However, with MK flirting with the relegation places and sitting just above Tranmere in 20th, Wycombe should be licking their lips at the prospect of goals and three more points.
Oxford v Blackpool
Our Prediction: 2-0
Dale Ventham: We welcome Blackpool this weekend with both sides looking for their first win in 2020. Having lost against Doncaster and Rotherham, we’ve secured points against Ipswich and Gillingham. But this month we have nine fixtures. It starts against Blackpool, another side desperate for a win, before welcoming Newcastle in an FA Cup fourth-round replay. We’ve dropped out of the playoffs having been in FA Cup action and with not playing during the week, so a win is vital to keep our bid alive.
Portsmouth v Sunderland
Our Prediction: 1-1
Sam Stone: To say I am absolutely buzzing for this game is a massive understatement. Two of the biggest sides in the division, both in excellent form and two passionate sets of fans at a packed-out Fratton park, it doesn’t get much better than that.
To suggest Pompey and Sunderland could be sick of the sight of each other wouldn’t be inaccurate. This will be the seventh meeting between Jackett’s troops and Parkinson’s black cats since the beginning of last season. Five of those fixtures had great significance, with them either being a crunch promotion game, a cup final or the dreaded play-offs. Pompey managed to seal the win at Wembley in front of 85,000 (one of the best atmospheres I’ve witnessed), however, Sunderland were far more professional in the play-offs and managed to condemn Pompey to another year in League One.
The game at the Stadium of Light at the start of the season saw Pompey take an early lead but were let down defensively as they conceded two sloppy set pieces to lose 2-1. Both sides have very much found their feet since then. Moving on the game on Saturday. A Pompey win will see them leap frog the black cats with a game in hand and have their sights firmly on the top two. Recent form suggests that this should be a very well matched, physical and competitive affair, with both managers priding themselves on being defensively stable.
Pompey have come off two very good results, one in the FA cup and an impressive and comfortable win at Lincoln, where many sides have succumbed this season. The introduction of Andy Cannon has provided a tenacity, energy and craft to the midfield which sides have struggled to deal with. Lincoln could not deal with the energy that Pompey possessed in the middle of the park, and with the likes of Cameron McGeehan on the bench Pompey have options and depth in that area. It will be interesting to see if the black cats can deal with this energy in the middle of park. There has statistically been a change in the style of play with an increase in progressive passes, leading to chances. The first 10/15 minutes will be important for Pompey to get on the front foot and put pressure on immediately, as having watched Sunderland or Friday they seemed slow to get going in the first half. A fast start and early goal for Pompey could set the tone for the game.
Set pieces will be another important aspect to the game. Pompey have started racking up goals from set-pieces since Steve Seddon joined from Birmingham, providing an excellent delivery. Sunderland have shown they are a threat from a dead ball with their goal v Tranmere. They have also proven to be solid defensively with 4 successive clean sheets. Right time for my prediction, I do believe this game will be easier for Pompey to win than Sunderland, given Pompey’s superb home form, having not lost all season. Sunderland have found some form and look a tough side to beat but they will have to be at their very best to get a result. The first 15/20 minutes could be decisive, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see an early goal. overall, I can see quite an even game separated by the odd goal.
SunderLAD: It is difficult to explain the importance of this fixture. There is no love lost between these two clubs after last season’s many meetings. Arguably, Sunderland have enjoyed the rub of the green, winning the playoff semi-final and the first encounter this season, but Pompey were able to beat SAFC on penalties at Wembley last season and took 4 points from their meetings.
The two teams are in amazing form in 2020, neither having lost. If there is going to be a winner on Saturday, it will be a hard-fought one. Let’s hope it promises to be a great match and the football makes the headlines. Not the abysmal league 1 referees or some idiot in the crowd trying to kick a Sunderland player.
Rotherham v Burton
Our Prediction: 3-0
Andrew Topham: After moving back into top spot after a well deserved win over Ipswich in midweek, the millers face another home game against Burton Albion.
Burton currently sit in 10th position, but are incredibly only 9 points off the top with a game in hand, in what is an increasingly tight division. Burton were the first ever league visitors to the New York Stadium back in 2012, losing 3-0 on that occasion.
They will be looking to avenge a 0-1 defeat to the Millers at the Pirelli back in August, a match I thought we were a little lucky to win. Rotherham looked very good against Ipswich and if they take a similar performance into the Burton game, I expect a comfortable home win.
BurtonBible: This match will be one of the toughest of the season. From what I can remember Rotherham are a very physical team which is something we struggle to deal with, especially in midfield. We lost 1-0 to Rotherham earlier this season but should’ve really lost by more. I’d be happy with a draw from this one.