Portsmouth vs Rochdale Preview

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 04 August 2017

A Portsmouth side with a new manager in Kenny Jackett and new owners in Tornante begin their first League One season since 2012 and look to begin with a bang.

Team News

Matt Clarke faces a month out with a groin injury and he is joined on the sidelines by new signing Nathan Thompson, although Christian Burgess should have recovered from a knock to start the game. New captain Brett Pitman will lead the line whilst Luke McGee and Tareiq Holmes-Dennis will also make their competitive Pompey debuts.

Rochdale will miss midfielder Joe Thompson who has returned to training having beaten cancer twice, yet isn't fit enough to return to action yet. New signings Kgosi Ntlhe, Matt Done and Brendan Moore could all make their debuts.

The Match

When Pompey take to the field tomorrow it will be exactly three months since that memorable 6-1 win over Cheltenham which clinched the League Two title. Paul Cook, Enda Stevens and Michael Doyle might have gone since then but a sold out crowd at Fratton Park will have plenty of reason to be optimistic.

The new signings seem shrewd and the takeover will have most fans excited about the prospects of another promotion as Kenny Jackett's men look like a more attacking outfit than last season.

It's expected Pompey will line up in a 4-4-2 formation with Gareth Evans having to deputise at right back whilst Carl Baker will continue in centre midfield where he has been influential during pre-season. The front two of Pitman and Conor Chaplin have the potential to score plenty of goals this season as do whichever wingers play, so the home fans should expect to cheer at least one goal tomorrow.

The main worries come from how lightweight the midfield looks without a Doyle or Linganzi to shore things up. If Rochdale have some bully boys in the centre of the park to rough things up, then Pompey may struggle to get a grip of the game.

It seems like Tom Davies will start alongside Burgess tomorrow and that's also a concern given how poor he was last season. Jackett obviously has faith in him but the Fratton fans will have their doubts and a mistake will see them turn on him quickly.

As for Rochdale, they have the potential to be one of the dark horses in this League One campaign and thus, should provide a difficult challenge tomorrow. Dale finished 9th last season and in Keith Hill have a manager who knows the club and the division inside-out.

Rochdale are a solid unit but in Ian Henderson have one of the most under-rated players in the division. Keith Keane and Jimmy McNulty at the back will also be difficult to break down, but Pompey have plenty of players capable of doing that.

Hopefully the new era begins with a win because nothing would bring everyone down to earth more than an opening day reverse at Fratton Park following a poor performance.

But this football club is still riding the crest of a wave and will fancy their chances not just tomorrow, but in every game they play this season no matter who the opposition are.

Predicted Starting Line-Ups

Pompey

GK: Luke McGEE

RB: Gareth EVANS

CB: Tom DAVIES

CB: Christian BURGESS

LB: Tareiq HOLMES-DENNIS

RM: Kal NAISMITH

CM: Danny ROSE

CM: Carl BAKER

LM: Kyle BENNETT

CF: Brett PITMAN

CF: Conor CHAPLIN

Rochdale

GK: Josh LILLIS

RB: Andy CANNON

CB: Keith KEANE

CB: Jimmy McNULTY

CB: Niall CANAVAN

LB: Kgosi NTLHE

CM: Callum CAMPS

CM: Jamie ALLAN

CM: Mark KITCHING

CF: Calvin ANDREW

CF: Ian HENDERSON

Last Time: Portsmouth 3 Rochdale 0 (League Two - 05/10/2013)

Many would have expected Pompey to be beaten as they went into this match on the back of a 4-2 hammering at York against a team unbeaten in five.

Instead, Jed Wallace fired in an opener from outside the box and then Bondz N'Gala bagged a brace in the second half after coverting two corners to seal a comfortable win for Guy Whittingham's men.

My Prediction

There may be concerns that Pompey have a soft centre but they also have plenty of firepower and it would be no surprise to see Pitman score on his debut. Got to be optimistic and go for an opening day victory at Fratton Park.

Portsmouth 2 Rochdale 1

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