Newport vs Portsmouth Preview

Pompey begin 2015 with a trip to Newport County hoping to put a mediocre 2014 behind them.

Team News

Matt Tubbs is set to make his Portsmouth debut after signing during the week and Dan Butler may return after serving his one-match-ban. James Dunne is in line to start after Marcus Bean's loan spell expired whilst Andy Barcham is likely to keep his place with the other wingers in the squad either loaned out or given back.

Exiles manager Justin Edinburgh is likely to stick with the same team that beat Carlisle last week and so Chris Zebroski and Aaron O'Connor should continue up front for them.

The Match

As like last season, this fixture may well breathe new life into Pompey's league campaign with some players and fans believing a play-off push is still on the cards. After all, this was Andy Awford's first match in charge of Pompey as the permanent gaffer and a 2-1 win at Rodney Parade was the catalyst for a remarkable run of form that took Pompey well clear of relegation trouble in the end.

Beating Newport this time around may well be a tougher challenge given that they are currently fifth in the table, have won six out of their last seven matches and have only suffered one home defeat in the league all season and that was to Wycombe right at the start of the season. Having said that, Luton had a similar set of stats backing them up before Pompey's last match and still only managed a draw.

A lot of that was down to a compact 4-5-1 formation that Awford deployed to stifle the hosts and you wonder if he will stick with that given Tubbs' need for a strike partner or if he'll be more ambitious and give the new man someone to play alongside, with Ryan Taylor the more likely partner than Craig Westcarr.

Whoever it is, Tubbs isn't going to miraculously cure all of the other problems this Pompey side currently has. There is still a lack of creativity in the midfield and the defence still can't keep a clean sheet. Dan Butler may be available but you would expect Awford to stick with Shorey after his solid showing at Luton.

Newport have plenty of firepower in Zebroski and O'Connor up front and also don't concede many goals so this is bound to be a tight match if Pompey play it safe but a hunch suggests that Awford may just say "go for it" to his team and play an attacking formation to have a go at Newport's physical players who roughed Pompey up at Fratton Park back in August.

A new year could mean a new hope for Portsmouth and with a positive result tomorrow and a few new additions to strengthen the squad during January and those faint hopes of a promotion push may become stronger.

Predicted Starting Line-Ups

Newport

GK: Joe DAY

RWB: Ryan JACKSON

CB: Darren JONES

CB: Ismail YAKUBU

CB: Regan POOLE

LWB: Andy SANDELL

CM: Adam CHAPMAN

CM: Lee MINSHULL

CM: Mark BYRNE

CF: Chris ZEBROSKI

CF: Aaron O'CONNOR

Pompey

GK: Paul JONES

RB: Adam WEBSTER

CB: Paul ROBINSON

CB: Jack WHATMOUGH

LB: Nicky SHOREY

RM: Jed WALLACE

CM: James DUNNE

CM: Nigel ATANGANA

LM: Andy BARCHAM

CF: Craig WESTCARR

CF: Matt TUBBS

Last Time: Newport County 1 Portsmouth 2 (League Two - 29/03/2014)

Ryan Taylor gave Pompey the lead from the penalty spot and Newport went down to ten men after Adam Chapman was sent off for a horrific lunge on Danny Hollands.

Jed Wallace headed in Ricky Holmes' cross to double the lead and although Ismail Yakubu pulled one back for the hosts, they soon went down to nine men as Darcy Blake saw a second yellow card for a challenge on Patrick Agyemang as Andy Awford earned his first win in his latest spell as caretaker manager and it would be a victory that started a superb run of form to earn him the job permanently.

My Prediction

Pompey have earned a 1-1 draw in their last two away matches despite the odds being against them so another result like that is probably on the cards.

Newport County 1 Portsmouth 1