Portsmouth vs Walsall Preview

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 18 August 2017

Pompey take on Walsall at Fratton Park tomorrow looking to bounce back from a humbling at Oxford last weekend.

Team News

Milan Lalkovic could feature against his former club after recovering from his ankle injury and Nathan Thompson has returned to training although won't be fit for the bench. However, new signing Dion Donahue isn't available for the match, Matt Clarke remains sidelined whilst Jamal Lowe serves the final game of his three-match ban.

Former Pompey youth prospect Florent Cuvelier is available for the visitors after missing last Saturday's win over Oldham whilst centre back Matt Nelson has left the club.

The Match

Whisper it quietly for fear of agitating the Pompey moaners, but since their opening day victory against the ten men of Rochdale, Portsmouth are winless in three matches.

Not that too much should be read into that, as the first of those defeats was to be expected against Championship side Cardiff and the most recent penalty shootout loss against Fulham U-21's was a result some Pompey fans were happy to see to halt any progress in the pathetic Checkatrade Trophy.

Only the Oxford result really matters but it was a tough one to take after a second half collapse, with the way Pompey played themselves into trouble giving Kenny Jackett some food for thought.

It'll be interesting to see who keeps their place after the second half collapse at the Kassam Stadium or if anyone played their way into tomorrow's starting XI following the 3-3 draw with Fulham reserves. If anyone staked a claim, it might have been Ben Close who will be eyeing Adam May's position in defensive midfield.

It seems likely that Kal Naismith will continue to start as centre forward too after he scored on Wednesday but whether he will be effective there is a different question entirely. Other than that, who knows what Jackett is thinking? He doesn't know his strongest eleven yet and, like the fans, will be wondering how to prevent the team becoming so brittle as they were last weekend.

As for tomorrow's opposition, they may have beaten Oldham last wekend but still remain one of the favourites for relegation due to a supposedly mediocre squad and a manager in Jon Whitney who is still cutting his teeth in his current role having been Walsall's physio for years.

Cuvelier is arguably their best player when fully fit whilst Erhun Oztumer is a threat playing in the number ten role, but in all honesty there will be a few murmurs of discontent if Pompey don't turn the Saddlers over tomorrow.

But the Blues are still newcomers to this division and there are bound to plenty of lessons learned by the final whistle tomorrow, whatever the result.

Predicted Starting Line-Ups

Pompey

GK: Luke McGEE

RB: Drew TALBOT

CB: Christian BURGESS

CB: Jack WHATMOUGH

LB: Brandan HAUNSTRUP

DM: Adam MAY

DM: Danny ROSE

RM: Gareth EVANS

AM: Brett PITMAN

LM: Kyle BENNETT

CF: Kal NAISMITH

Walsall

GK: Mark GILLESPIE

RB: Nicky DEVLIN

CB: Jon GUTHRIE

CB: James WILSON

LB: Luke LEAHY

RM: Joe EDWARDS

CM: Florent CUVELIER

CM: Adam CHAMBERS

LM: Kieron MORRIS

AM: Erhun OZTUMER

CF: Amadou BAKAYOKO

Last Time: Portsmouth 1 Walsall 2 (League One - 15/09/2012)

James Baxendale opened the scoring for the visitors with a piledriver from outside the box before Cuvelier doubled the Saddlers' lead with a strike of his own. Izale McLeod pulled one back but Michael Appleton's men couldn't find an equaliser in a match they deserved to lose, in truth.

My Prediction

There are bound to be many questions about Pompey's defending after conceding three to Oxford last weekend but Walsall don't look to be such a threat going forward and on home turf, Pompey should be looking to score a couple of goals of their own with the firepower at their disposal.

Portsmouth 2 Walsall 1 

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