Brighton vs Portsmouth Preview
By Jim Bonner
Updated Friday, 9th March 2012
Another difficult game in the fight for survival.
Pompey fans will make their first ever trip to the Amex Stadium tomorrow looking for a result to take their team off the bottom of the Championship table.
New loan signing Chris Maguire may be put straight into the starting line-up for tomorrow's match.
Tal Ben-Haim may return to the starting eleven if he has fully recovered from the virus that kept him out of Tuesday's defeat to Reading. Kelvin Etuhu is also pushing for a start after he was placed on the bench midweek.
Joe Mattock and Abdul Razak are set to face the club they were loaned to earlier in the season whilst Sam Vokes, another player Pompey were after may start after scoring in Tuesday's 2-2 draw with Cardiff.
Things may look dire off the pitch but that has now translated to problems on the pitch as Portsmouth lie bottom of the table and are having serious trouble scoring goals.
It speaks volumes when League One Stevenage went to Tottenham on Wednesday and had more shots on target in that match than Pompey have mustered in their last four games.
Michael Appleton has shown his players a DVD of Pedro Mendes' last-gasp volley against Manchester City six years ago this weekend in hopes that it will inspire them to produce a "great escape" of their own.
The manager has earned many plaudits for handling such a woeful situation with such dignity but he needs to change something as the useless "hoof and hope" football isn't working.
But what can he do? The man needs to work miracles if we're to get out of this mess and it doesn't help when the fixture list keeps throwing extremely tough games at him.
If the form team in the country on Tuesday wasn't enough, Pompey now have to go to Brighton who are on the cusp of the play-off places and have had a fine first season back in the second tier.
This match will have to go a long way to be as bad as last season's visit to Brighton but I don't hold out too much hope. If only someone could conjure up something from somewhere just as they did six years ago...
Predicted Starting Line-Ups
GK: Peter BREZOVAN
RB: Gonzalo JARA-REYES
CB: Gordon GREER
CB: Adam EL-ABD
LB: Joe MATTOCK
CM: Liam BRIDCUTT
CM: Alan NAVARRO
CM: Abdul RAZAK
AM: Ashley BARNES
RWF: Will BUCKLEY
CF: Craig MACKAIL-SMITH
GK: Stephen HENDERSON
RB: Tal BEN-HAIM
CB: Ricardo ROCHA
CB: Jason PEARCE
LB: Greg HALFORD
RM: Kelvin ETUHU
CM: George THORNE
CM: Hayden MULLINS
LM: Scott ALLAN
CF: Chris MAGUIRE
CF: Luke VARNEY
Last Time: Brighton & Hove Albion 3 Portsmouth 1 (FA Cup Third Round - 08/01/2011)
After trudging through an alley full of potholes and dog shit to get to the embarrassingly bad Withdean Stadium, Pompey fans had their days made worse as Dave Kitson was sent off for punching Adam El-Abd in the box.
Chris Wood gave the Seagulls the lead and then Ibrahima Sonko needlessly handled the ball in the box in the last minute of the half, meaning Ashley Barnes could score the penalty.
Tom Kilbey scored in stoppage time of the second half to give us a glimmer of hope but Brighton went straight up the other end of the pitch and scored through Francisco Sandanza to see the League One side through.
Whilst it can't be as bad as the match above, I can't see Pompey getting anything here unless there is a "Mendes moment".
Brighton & Hove Albion 2 Portsmouth 0