Rochdale vs Portsmouth Preview

Pompey fans travel to Spotland tomorrow hoping their team will win a fifth consecutive match and continue their march to the promotion places.

Team News

Anton Walkes didn't train on Thursday as a precaution but is expected to be fit for tomorrow's match and Dion Donohue is available again following the birth of his son, Mason.

Keith Hill isn't expected to make any changes to his side as they are unbeaten in three games, winning their last two.

The Match

Looking at the rest of the season with just six games remaining, Pompey can probably afford one defeat so long as it's not against one of their play-off rivals. Potentially that means a loss to Rochdale tomorrow wouldn't be catastrophic, but would be very disappointing given the Blues' recent form.

Pompey are flying having won their last four games and the victory over Wigan has everyone believing that they can gatecrash the top six and qualify for the play-offs. However, their opponents may be more dangerous than they seem despite currently sitting in the League One relegation zone.

Rochdale have won their last two matches (against Bury and, surprisingly, Shrewsbury) and embarked on an F.A. Cup run earlier in the season which saw them beat Millwall and earn a draw against Tottenham thanks to a stoppage time goal.

Their league form since a 6-1 defeat in the replay at Wembley has seen Dale lose just one match and they have also claimed impressive victories away at Walsall (3-0) and Rotherham. Ian Henderson will be the player Walkes will have to keep quiet this weekend.

Still, Pompey will be favourites and rightly so due to the form of the back five and always having players who are able to do some damage up front. The only question will be if Donohue replaces Brandan Haunstrup at left back and given that the former offers slightly more going forward and a better delivery into the box, it's likely that the new father will return to the side.

This will be a typical banana skin match but with Brett Pitman and Jamal Lowe up front to do the goalscoring and a rock solid defence at the back, this should be another three points on the board.

Predicted Starting Line-Ups

Rochdale

GK: Josh LILLIS

RWB: Matt DONE

CB: Ryan DELANEY

CB: Jim McNULTY

CB: Harrison McGAHEY

LWB: Joe RAFFERTY

CM: Callum CAMPS

CM: Ian HENDERSON

CM: Oliver RATHBONE

CF: Bradden INMAN

CF: Calvin ANDREW

Pompey

GK: Luke McGEE

RB: Nathan THOMPSON

CB: Jack WHATMOUGH

CB: Matt CLARKE

LB: Dion DONOHUE

DM: Anton WALKES

RM: Jamal LOWE

CM: Gareth EVANS

CM: Ben CLOSE

LM: Kal NAISMITH

CF: Brett PITMAN

Last Time: Rochdale 3 Portsmouth 0 (League Two - 25/03/2014)

Goals from Matt Lund, Ian Henderson and Peter Vincenti ensured Dale had an easy victory against a clueless Pompey team destined for relegation. Thankfully, the board saw sense and sacked Richie Barker soon after what was one of the lowest points in recent Portsmouth history.

My Prediction

This will be a tough game but with a team with such a strong spine and players capable of scoring goals from nothing, you have to back Pompey, don't you? Not even the excuse of poor away from can be used this time!

Rochdale 0 Portsmouth 2