Accrington Stanley vs Portsmouth Preview
By Jim Bonner
Updated Friday, 15th January 2016
Pompey look to close in on the top three.
Pompey go to Accrington tomorrow for a key game in the race for promotion, providing it still goes ahead, of course.
Danny Hollands had a fractured fibula and faces a few weeks on the sidelines so his place will either go to Ben Close or Adam Barton. Caolan Lavery's loan return means either a start for Conor Chaplin up front or Gary Roberts will start with Marc McNulty playing as an out-and-out striker.
Josh Windass is a doubt for the hosts with a groin injury whilst Dean Winnard will also certainly miss the game due to an ankle injury.
After an excellent performance at Ipswich last weekend, Pompey will be expected to go to the Crown Ground and at least not taste defeat.
Accrington are in the hunt for automatic promotion and have three games in hand on Pompey due to numerous home games getting called off due to a waterlogged pitch. With more bad weather expected overnight the covers are on the ground and it's hopeful that the game will go ahead.
It seems like Close will be preferred to Barton in the absence of Hollands and with Paul Cook also eager to get Roberts back into the starting eleven, he will play him just behind McNulty and give him free reign to cause some damage to an Accrington defence that cannot keep clean sheets.
Stanley haven't looked anything special in the two games they have played at Fratton Park and without their top scorer the forthcoming match should be one that Pompey can take all three points from, and they will probably need to as well.
Why? Because it's unlikely that Plymouth (at home to Stevenage) and Northampton (away at Dagenham) are likely to drop any points whilst Oxford face a tough trip to Bristol Rovers but are in good form having knocked Swansea out of the cup.
Not only that but defeat would see the opposition go just two points behind Portsmouth with the possibility of nine extra due to the extra games in hand. A draw wouldn't be a terrible result but a win is really what is required given how tight it is at the top of the league.
But Pompey should be backed to do it as long as those defensive errors are kept to a minimum tomorrow...
Predicted Starting Line-Ups
GK: Ross ETHERIDGE
RB: Matty PEARSON
CB: Tom DAVIES
CB: Joe WRIGHT
LB: Brad HALLIDAY
RM: Piero MINGOIA
CM: Gerardo BRUNA
CM: Andrew PROCTER
LM: Sean McCONVILLE
CF: Josh WINDASS
CF: Terry GORNELL
GK: Brian MURPHY
RB: Ben DAVIES
CB: Matt CLARKE
CB: Adam WEBSTER
LB: Enda STEVENS
DM: Michael DOYLE
DM: Ben CLOSE
RM: Gareth EVANS
AM: Gary ROBERTS
LM: Kyle BENNETT
CF: Marc McNULTY
Last Time: Accrington Stanley 1 Portsmouth 1 (League Two - 07/03/2015)
Josh Windass gave the hosts the lead from a free kick but Ryan Taylor struck a quick equaliser to restore parity. Stanley had to play most of the second half with ten men after Anthony Barry was sent off for a challenge on Danny Hollands but Pompey couldn't make their numerical advantage count and had to settle for a disappointing draw.
Pompey may miss Lavery but they should still have enough to beat Accrington as long as Brian Murphy keeps it together and the defence remain firm on what looks to be a difficult pitch.
Accrington Stanley 1 Portsmouth 2