Barnet vs Portsmouth Preview
By Jim Bonner
Updated Tuesday, 23rd February 2016
Which Pompey will turn up at The Hive?
Pompey take on Barnet tonight looking for their first away win in two months.
Christian Burgess is suspended following his dismissal at Yeovil whilst Gareth Evans was injured in that game and won't play. Danny Hollands is fit again and could start in place of Ben Close whilst Paul Cook claims that other players in his squad are also carrying injuries.
Barnet striker Shaun Batt is unavailable after sustaining an injury against Wimbledon on Saturday. He joins Michael Gash and Bira Dembele on the treatment table. Young forward Matt Stevens looks set to start after scoring at the weekend.
After Saturday's dire performance at Huish Park you have to wonder what Pompey team will turn up at Barnet tonight as they are capable of so much more as they showed against Bristol Rovers.
There are bound to be changes to the weekend's team and not just enforced one, either. Matt Clarke will come in for Burgess whilst either Ben Tollitt, Kal Naismith or Adam McGurk will replace the injured Evans.
But there may well be other changes too given that Ryan Fulton and Gary Roberts were the only players to come out of the Yeovil game with any real credit.
Perhaps Marc McNulty will be restored to the starting eleven after Michael Smith failed to make an impression? Maybe Ben Davies will be "rested" in favour of Kieron Freeman? Will one of Close or Doyle make way for the returning Hollands? It's so difficult to guess what Cook is going to do tonight, which will hopefully give Martin Allen a headache too.
Tonight's opposition may have been beaten by Wimbledon at The Hive last time but their home form has generally been very good as only Carlisle, Plymouth and Northampton have picked up more points than them on home turf.
They are your typical "make yourselves difficult to beat and play turgid football" team so Pompey's midfielders simply have to be stronger than they were when they were outfought by Yeovil. The quicker players in the squad could also take advantage of Bondz N'Gala's severe lack of pace.
Three points are required if Pompey are to realistically stay in the play-off positions. Yeovil host Plymouth, Oxford are at Exeter, Accrington play Notts County and Wimbledon are at home to Carlisle tonight so there'll be plenty of movement at the top of the table.
Let's just hope that Portsmouth are moving upwards rather than downwards.
Predicted Starting Line-Ups
GK: Jamie STEPHENS
RB: Andy YIADOM
CB: Bondz N'GALA
CB: Alie SESAY
LB: Elliott JOHNSON
RM: Luke GAMBIN
CM: Sam TOGWELL
CM: Mark RANDALL
CM: Curtis WESTON
LM: Chris HACKETT
CF: John AKINDE
GK: Ryan FULTON
RB: Kieron FREEMAN
CB: Matt CLARKE
CB: Adam WEBSTER
LB: Enda STEVENS
DM: Michael DOYLE
DM: Danny HOLLANDS
RM: Kal NAISMITH
AM: Gary ROBERTS
LM: Kyle BENNETT
CF: Michael SMITH
Last Time: Barnet 0 Portsmouth 5 (FA Cup Third Round - 05/01/1991)
Pompey ran riot at Underhill as goals from Warren Aspinall, Colin Clarke and a hat-trick from Guy Whittingham made light work of the Bees.
This is the most difficult match of the season to predict so far so time to sit on the fence again.
Barnet 1 Portsmouth 1