Portsmouth vs AFC Bournemouth Preview
By Jim Bonner
Updated Friday, 29th January 2016
Pompey look to cause a major cup upset in round four.
Pompey take on Bournemouth tomorrow for the FA Cup tie that is "not a derby" but sees a League Two side looking to cause an upset against a Premier League side.
New loan signing Kieron Freeman is cup-tied and cannot play whilst Paul Cook may make a couple of changes with one eye on Tuesday's trip to Morecambe so Christian Burgess and Ben Close may start.
Eddie Howe is likely to make a whole host of changes to his side with Premier League survival his priority. Sylvain Distin could feature against the side he won the cup with back in 2008 whilst loan signing Juan Iturbe is set to start after arriving from Roma.
It's funny how much can change in football in three-and-a-half years, isn't it? The last time these sides met at Fratton Park was in a Johnstone's Paint Trophy game that Pompey won on penalties when both teams were in League One.
Since then, Portsmouth have been relegated to the bottom tier whilst the "plucky little Cherries" now find themselves in the richest league in the world. That's what happens when a rich Russian benefactor arrives at your club and re-signs the most successful manager in the club's history. (It certainly worked out well for Pompey, didn't it!?)
This should be a good cup tie with both teams capable of playing football on the deck rather than the turgid long ball style and the atmosphere should be rocking with Pompey the underdogs against a club whose average attendance is still below theirs despite being three divisions above their opposition.
Hopefully Distin starts or at least makes an appearance not just for the reception he'll get but also because his lack of pace at the age of 38 means he can be got at if Kyle Bennett and Conor Chaplin are on their game.
The rest of the Bournemouth backline is likely to be made up of youngsters and Pompey's ability to capitalise on their lack of cohesion and experience of such a big game will be their greatest chance of winning this tie. If Pompey can get an early goal whilst the Cherries are finding their rhythm in the game then who knows what will happen?
However, even a second-string Bournemouth side poses a significant threat. Iturbe is an Argentinian international whilst the likes of Glenn Murray, Lewis Grabban and Benik Afobe are capable of carving League Two defences apart.
And should Eddie Howe find his team in trouble, he can always call upon the likes of Matt Ritchie and Harry Arter from the bench to do some damage.
Whatever happens tomorrow, it should be a cracking game with both sets of supporters getting along well and enjoying the day. There's a small chance that Pompey could pull off a shock but with Morecambe coming up on Tuesday, promotion remains a priority for Paul Cook.
Predicted Starting Line-Ups
GK: Ryan FULTON
RB: Ben DAVIES
CB: Christian BURGESS
CB: Adam WEBSTER
LB: Enda STEVENS
DM: Ben CLOSE
DM: Adam BARTON
RM: Gareth EVANS
AM: Gary ROBERTS
LM: Kyle BENNETT
CF: Marc McNULTY
GK: Adam FEDERICI
RB: Jordan LEE
CB: Tommy ELPHICK
CB: Baily CARGILL
LB: Matt BUTCHER
RM: Juan ITURBE
CM: Shaun MacDONALD
CM: Eunan O'KANE
LM: Josh KING
CF: Lewis GRABBAN
CF: Glenn MURRAY
Last Time: Portsmouth 2 AFC Bournemouth 2 (Johnstone's Paint Trophy - 04/09/2012)
Bournemouth took an early lead when Shaun MacDonald headed in an early goal but Pompey equalised when Luke Rodgers turned in Mustapha Dumbuya's cross.
MacDonald rifled the Cherries back in front in the second half but a superb solo effort from Brian Howard meant the tie went to penalties. Lee Barnard and Marc Pugh missed their spot kicks whilst Pompey scored all of theirs to win the match for Michael Appleton's men.
League form will be forgotten about and I expect Pompey to give this a real good go. Bournemouth should have enough quality to get through the tie eventually but not without a scare.
Portsmouth 1 AFC Bournemouth 2