Oxford United vs Portsmouth Preview

Pompey travel to the Kassam Stadium for the second time this season looking for their first win of 2014.

Team News

Nicky Shorey, Daniel Alfei, Jake Jervis and Ryan Taylor could all make their debuts for Pompey who are still without Tom Craddock and Danny East. However, Simon Ferry, Andy Barcham and Ricky Holmes are all in contention having returned to training.

Dave Kitson will not play against his former club as he serves the second match of his two game ban but another former Pompey player in Ryan Williams has recovered from an ankle injury and could start.

The Match

Oxford have stuttered at home recently having lost their last two league games at the Kassam to Scunthorpe and Plymouth, whilst Pompey have already won there in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy this season.

However, Pompey fans will be under no illusions heading into this game with the 4-1 defeat at Fratton Park in the reverse fixture still in the back of their minds.

Portsmouth supporters may not think much of Dave Kitson but he has been an outstanding performer for the U's this campaign and will be a significant loss for Chris Wilder, who may have been managing this game from the away dugout had things turned out differently.

As it is, Richie Barker has the job of picking the team and it's very likely that Daniel Alfei and Nicky Shorey will be making their debuts at full back for Pompey but the two strikers who signed may have to settle for a place on the bench.

After all, Patrick Agyemang still remains the top forward at the club and already has two goals against tomorrow's opposition, having completely swung the JPT game in Pompey's favour when coming off the bench. The Oxford defenders couldn't handle him and he scored a superb goal against them so has to start if he's available.

Ricky Holmes should be able to start despite coming off at Southend in a match Pompey were desperately unlucky to lose. Jed Wallace needs a goal having hit the woodwork so many times recently and most Pompey fans will want to see how Jack Whatmough copes in midfield after an impressive showing on New Year's Day.

If the players can reproduce the same performance that they did at Roots Hall that day then they have a fair chance of celebrating a win given Oxford's poor home form and loss of their best player.

This will still be a tough encounter as the host's league position speaks for itself but Pompey's fortunes have to turn around sooner or later, so why not tomorrow?

Predicted Starting Line-Ups

Oxford

GK: Ryan CLARKE

RB: David HUNT

CB: Johnny MULLINS

CB: Jake WRIGHT

LB: Tom NEWEY

RM: Ryan WILLIAMS

CM: Asa HALL

CM: Danny ROSE

LM: Sean RIGG

CF: Dean SMALLEY

CF: James CONSTABLE

Pompey

GK: Trevor CARSON

RB: Daniel ALFEI

CB: Sonny BRADLEY

CB: Joe DEVERA

LB: Nicky SHOREY

DM: Jack WHATMOUGH

DM: Thery RACON

RM: Ricky HOLMES

CM: Jed WALLACE

LM: Andy BARCHAM

CF: Patrick AGYEMANG

Last Time: Oxford United 1 Portsmouth 2 (Johnstone's Paint Trophy Second Round - 08/10/2013)

After a boring hour, Patrick Agyemang came off the bench and scored a stunning goal, curling the ball past Ryan Clarke. John Marquis scored a second by heading in Yassin Moutaouakil's cross and although James Constable scored in the 90th minute, Pompey held on to progress.

My Prediction

In a week where Pompey have lost two significant players in their history in Albie McCann and Johnny Phillips, it would be fitting to honour their memory by beating Oxford again and avenging the opening day defeat. So long as the effort is repeated from ten days ago at Southend, this could be where things start to turn around.

Oxford United 1 Portsmouth 2