Coventry vs Portsmouth Preview
By Jim Bonner
Updated Friday, 23rd March 2012
Can Pompey stage another "Great Escape" act?
Pompey head to the Ricoh Arena tomorrow with a renewed belief after the 4-1 thrashing of Birmingham City on Tuesday,
Kelvin Etuhu will be pushing to start the game after his excellent cameo on Tuesday whilst Luca Scapuzzi and Karim Rekik will at least be on the bench, where they'll likely replace Ashley Harris and Benjani.
Martin Cranie may be denied a reunion with his former club because of a thigh injury but Hermann Hreidarsson will definitely miss out with a shoulder problem. David Bell should return to the squad but Richard Wood and Carl Baker are out.
Pompey gear up for their biggest match of the season knowing defeat will surely mean League One football next year if the club can survive.
It has been refreshing to talk about football matters on the pitch in the latter part of this week. Partly because we've heard nothing from Trevor Birch but the outstanding second half comeback against Birmingham has seen fans believe that another great escape is possible.
However, Coventry are difficult opposition on their own turf and will be difficult to beat despite their terrible league position. The Sky Blues have drawn their last four games and have an irritating habit of scoring goals in stoppage time, so they don't know when they're beaten.
Although Pompey are two points behind their opposition, I don't believe that tomorrow's game is "must win" due to our game in hand on them. Still, this is definitely a "must not lose" game and we will need to take at least four points from the next two games.
I hope Kelvin Etuhu starts in place of Joel Ward. Ward may be a local lad but he hasn't really had any impact on the side recently and I think the Nigerian will be far more effective due to his pace on the break and ability to keep the ball.
It'll also be interesting to see how the two Man City boys are going to fit into Michael Appleton's plans. I expect they'll start on the bench given how the defence performed on Tuesday and you wouldn't drop Varney or Maguire either.
This will be a difficult game for sure, but with a new confidence around the team I think it is one we can win.
Predicted Starting Line-Ups
GK: Joe MURPHY
RB: Martin CRANIE
CB: Richard KEOGH
CB: Jordan CLARKE
LB: Cyrus CHRISTIE
RM: Gary McSHEFFREY
CM: Oliver NORWOOD
CM: Gary DEEGAN
LM: David BELL
CF: Alex NIMELY
CF: Clive PLATT
GK: Jamie ASHDOWN
RB: Greg HALFORD
CB: Jason PEARCE
CB: Ricardo ROCHA
LB: Tal BEN-HAIM
RM: Scott ALLAN
CM: George THORNE
CM: David NORRIS
LM: Kelvin ETUHU
CF: Luke VARNEY
CF: Chris MAGUIRE
Last Time: Coventry City 2 Portsmouth 0 (Championship - 07/08/2010)
Pompey's first game in the Championship after a seven year stint in the Premier League couldn't have been much worse.
A small squad that saw Matt Ritchie play at left back and John Utaka booed off by his own fans were easily beaten by Aidy Boothroyd's men.
Freddy Eastwood's shot crept under Jamie Ashdown after just four minutes and he headed in another in the second half to ensure Steve Cotterill's first game in charge of Pompey ended in defeat.
Tuesday's result and second half performance should breed new life into this Pompey side but we're still awful away from home whilst the Ricoh is something of a fortress for Coventry. I'll sit on the fence here.
Coventry City 1 Portsmouth 1
|23 Mar 2012|
|The Opposition View: Coventry City|
|22 Mar 2012|
|Man City Duo Arrive On Loan|
|20 Mar 2012|
|Pompey Fight Back Stuns Birmingham|
|Team lineups: Portsmouth v Birmingham City 20 Mar 2012|
|The Opposition View: Birmingham City|
|19 Mar 2012|
|Portsmouth vs Birmingham Preview|
|18 Mar 2012|
|Pompey Held By Robins|