Portsmouth vs Southend Preview

Pompey take on high-flying Southend United at Fratton Park tomorrow looking for their first win in eight matches.

Team News

Andy Awford could name the same starting eleven that played against Burton last week with James Dunne expected to be fit despite coming off in that game with an injury. Paul McCallum may well be given a start ahead of Craig Westcarr also.

Gary Deegan is suspended for Southend after being sent off at Oxford last weekend whilst Clan Bolger also serves the last of his four-match-ban. Defender Adam Barrett, recently signed from Gillingham, could return to the side after injury ruled him out against the U's.

The Match

Andy Awford has admitted he is feeling a little anxious as his team are currently only three points off the relegation places in League Two despite sitting in 16th place.

That is down to a very poor run of form which has seen the Pompey manager's position come under much scrutiny during the last month and one wonders what would happen if Southend were to win convincingly at Fratton Park with a trip to league leaders Wycombe up next.

Awford may well have shot himself in the foot by ditching so many of his wingers from the squad given how they tore Morecambe apart in what was Pompey's last win all the way back on November 22nd. Perhaps the manager should remind Andy Barcham and Jed Wallace what they're best at and then perhaps they could cross some decent balls into the box for the strikers to put into the back of the net.

Phil Brown has been running his mouth about Pompey yet again by claiming that the pressure of playing for such a big club for the fourth tier could be getting to the players but he may well have a point given how badly Pompey's home form has dipped and how the fans have responded to recent results.

If Pompey go behind tomorrow then given the likely reaction of a large section of supporters and the fact that Southend are good when it comes to holding onto leads then it's difficult to see Pompey getting any sort of positive result tomorrow.

However, there is some hope going into tomorrow's match if the first half against Burton is anything to go by. Andy Barcham seems like a rejuvenated player in recent times and Matt Tubbs has got to score his first goal for Pompey eventually, hasn't he?

And if Pompey do take the lead tomorrow then hopefully the players won't be content to sit on their goal lead whether that's down to nerves or the manager's instructions.

Whatever happens, tomorrow's match is going to be a difficult one but one that could determine how the rest of the season is going to pan out. (How many times have I said that this month!?)

Predicted Starting Line-Ups

Pompey

GK: Paul JONES

RB: Adam WEBSTER

CB: Joe DEVERA

CB: Paul ROBINSON

LB: Nicky SHOREY

RM: Jed WALLACE

CM: Nigel ATANGANA

CM: James DUNNE

LM: Andy BARCHAM

CF: Matt TUBBS

CF: Paul McCALLUM

Southend

GK: Daniel BENTLEY

RB: John WHITE

CB: Adam BARRETT

CB: Jerome BINNOM-WILLIAMS

LB: Ben COKER

RM: Will ATKINSON

CM: Ryan LEONARD

CM: Michael TIMLIN

LM: David WORRAL

CF: Joe PIGGOT

CF: Barry CORR

Last Time: Portsmouth 1 Southend United 2 (League Two - 26/10/2013)

Andy Awford took charge of this match in the wake of Guy Whittingham's sacking and was handed the perfect start when Barcham rifled in an early opener and everyone must have thought Pompey's luck was changing when Cauley Woodrow was sent off for an elbow on Wallace.

However, Pompey capitulated against the ten men late on as Will Atkinson and Barry Corr took advantage of some extremely slack defending to turn the game on its head in the last fifteen minutes to leave Fratton Park stunned.

My Prediction

Another tough home game will probably result in another score draw unless Pompey can find some inspiration from somewhere or Southend score first and defend stoutly for the rest of the match.

Portsmouth 1 Southend United 1