Portsmouth vs Exeter Preview

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 27 January 2017

Pompey take on in-form Exeter City at Fratton Park tomorrow looking for a win that could see them end the evening in the automatic promotion places.

Team News

Curtis Main still remains sidelined with a knee injury but Paul Cook has a fully fit squad to choose from otherwise.

Former Pompey and Southampton winger Lee Holmes misses tomorrow's match with an ankle injury and Tom McCready has a groin problem so also won't be available.

The Match

Despite not playing last Saturday, it was still a good weekend for Pompey as Carlisle were held to a draw at Accrington Stanley whilst Luton and Wycombe played out a 1-1 draw to ensure that neither got too close to the Blues.

Paul Cook now has to ensure his team take advantage of those wobbles, starting with tomorrow's match against the most in-form team in the country in this current moment in time.

The Grecians boast the best away record in the division and are currently on an unbeaten run of nine matches, winning seven and drawing two whilst only conceding twice in the process. 

The main reason for Exeter's excellent record on the road is because they are experts at soaking up pressure and hitting teams on the break with their pace. Therefore, it would be naive of Cook to set his team out to attack-at-will like he has in recent games as he has deployed a 4-4-2 formation.

In fact, this could be a match where the smart thing to do would be to play the trusted 4-2-3-1 formation and play the patient game, breaking Exeter down on the flanks where they are weak and leaving the defence to deal with Reuben Reid and Ollie Watkins rather than maraude forward.

Eyes will undoubtedly be on Cook's team selection but it'll be interesting to see if the Hampton & Richmond duo get any game time if they're required.

In the weekend's other notable fixtures, Carlisle could drop more points when they host Barnet, Luton face a difficult home game with Cambridge whilst Wycombe don't play in the league due to their trip to Tottenham in the F.A. Cup.

Despite the fact that this looks like a very winnable game on paper, it will end up being one of Pompey's toughest for the remainder of the season and it's followed by a difficult match at Wycombe next weekend, so the next two games will be a huge test of Portsmouth's promotion credentials.

Predicted Starting Line-Ups

Pompey

GK: David FORDE

RB: Gareth EVANS

CB: Christian BURGESS

CB: Matt CLARKE

LB: Enda STEVENS

RM: Carl BAKER

CM: Danny ROSE

CM: Michael DOYLE

LM: Kal NAISMITH

CF: Michael SMITH

CF: Conor CHAPLIN

Exeter

GK: Christie PYM

RB: Jack STACEY

CB: Troy BROWN

CB: Jordan MOORE-TAYLOR

LB: Craig WOODMAN

RM: David WHEELER

CM: Lloyd JAMES

CM: Kyle EGAN

LM: Ryan HARLEY

AM: Ollie WATKINS

CF: Reuben REID

Last Time: Portsmouth 1 Exeter City 2 (League Two - 29/09/2015)

Pompey suffered their first defeat of the season as David Wheeler's angled drive and a header from Arron Davies was enough to seal the win for Paul Tisdale's side despite a last-minute consolation from Gary Roberts.

My Prediction

Pompey's matches against Exeter are usually entertaining affairs but with them being in such good form and the home side also playing well, this looks like it'll end in a draw.

Portsmouth 1 Exeter City 1 

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