Wycombe vs Portsmouth Preview

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 30 January 2015

Andy Awford has been handed the dreaded "vote of confidence" by the Portsmouth board and now faces the prospect of trying to get a result at League Two leaders Wycombe Wanderers.

Team News

Josh Passley is likely to go straight into the first team at right with striker Paul McCallum serving the first of up to a four match ban after his violent conduct last Saturday. Nicky Shorey could also be dropped whilst Bradley Tarbuck won't feature as he has been loaned to Dorchester.

Marcus Bean is set to play against the team he represented last month but striker Paul Hayes is out injured for the Chairboys.

The Match

Many people didn't expect Andy Awford to be in charge of Pompey for this game but he could yet face the sack if his team loses tomorrow, given that chairman Iain McInnes stated that he expected at least a draw from this fixture in his pre-match programme notes last week.

It's difficult to see what kind of difference Awford's "vote of confidence" will make to the team, He may change his personnel with Passley replacing the disappointing Webster at right back whilst Dan Butler may come in for the sluggish Shorey on the other flank. Given how difficult this fixture looks on paper, Awford may be tempted to play an extra centre back and try the wing-back formation which served him well at the start of the season.

Whatever he decides to do, the only way I personally see Pompey getting a result is via a repeat showing of last season's match at Adams Park where Wycombe did everything but score and Pompey stole the match with a soft penalty which happened to be their only shot on target for the entire game.

Wycombe have been successful because of a very mean defence but they also don't score many goals, having scored no more than one goal in their last seven games. The Chairboys are unbeaten in ten games, however, and that is because of this attritional way of playing as well as the extremely irritating use of gamesmanship, as Pompey fans discovered during the reverse fixture when Wycombe took the lead.

If Awford needs any hope going into the match he only needs to look at his opposite number in Gareth Ainsworth who very nearly took Wycombe down to the Conference last season and now sees his team at the top of the tree, so there is hope for the Pompey manager.

But he certainly needs his men to outbattle a stubborn Wycombe side and hope that one of his forward-thinking players can create something but for more than just a short period of time as has been evident in recent matches.

Unless Pompey are thrashed tomorrow Awford will probably keep his job but will then be under immense pressure with Hartlepool next up at Fratton Park. A result here may also not sway too many opinions but it may well be the difference between staying in League Two and relegation to the Conference.

Predicted Starting Line-Ups

Wycombe

GK: Matt INGRAM

RB: Sido JOMBATI

CB: Aaron PIERRE

CB: Alfie MAWSON

LB: Joe JACOBSON

RM: Hogan EPHRAIM

CM: Marcus BEAN

CM: Matt BLOOMFIELD

LM: Sam WOOD

CF: Fred ONYEDINMA

CF: Aaron HOLLOWAY

Pompey

GK: Paul JONES

RWB: Josh PASSLEY

CB: Joe DEVERA

CB: Paul ROBINSON

CB: Jack WHATMOUGH

LWB: Dan BUTLER

CM: James DUNNE

CM: Nigel ATANGANA

CM: Jed WALLACE

CF: Matt TUBBS

CF: Craig WESTCARR

Last Time: Wycombe Wanderers 0 Portsmouth 1 (League Two - 28/01/2014)

Trevor Carson made some fantastic saves as Pompey secured a smash 'n' grab win thanks to Ryan Taylor's penalty. More shots were saved and cleared off the line as Gary Doherty's stoppage time equaliser was disallowed for a foul.

Ben Chorley's presence and leadership made a huge difference to the defence in a match which was supposed to be a turning point for Richie Barker. What a difference a year makes, eh?

My Prediction

Pompey's lack of confidence and creativity suggests that Wycombe will probably squeeze a win out here and heap even more pressure on Awford. Any sort of result for Pompey is a bonus.

Wycombe Wanderers 1 Portsmouth 0

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