BIG MATCH PREVIEW: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
Mansfield Town head for Portsmouth on Saturday with justified confidence.
Although recently a Premier League club, never easy to overcome at Fratton Park, and still fifth in the table, Pompey had been suffering a bit of a lean spell with only two wins in eight games before Tuesday night’s late win over Bristol Rovers in the Checkatrade Trophy.
That was a very timely end to a run of three home defeats for Paul Cook’s men.
The Stags have never lost there in their four trips to the famous South Coast ground, drawing every time.
In face six of the nine times the clubs have met down the years have ended in draws.
The last time the Stags beat Portsmouth was 2-0 at home back in May 1977, but Mansfield’s away record this season is excellent.
After Mansfield won 3-2 at Derby County U23s in the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday night, boss Adam Murray said Stags were in confident mood and were going to Fratton Park to win and ‘give it a right good go’.
Limited edition Mitre matchballs are to be used in Sky Bet League One and League Two this weekend, in a mark of respect for the fallen.
The balls, each branded with The Royal British Legion’s iconic Poppy logo are to be used in fixtures spanning 12th-13th November.
The balls are part of a campaign by EFL title sponsor Sky Bet to raise funds for this year’s Poppy Appeal, and a signed shirt from each of the 48 League One and Two teams will be auctioned later this month.
In two previous campaigns working alongside the Legion they have raised over £200,000.
Click HERE to read a Derby U23s v Stags match report
Click HERE to read a Portsmouth v Bristol Rovers midweek report
STAGS TEAM NEWS
Stags are almost at full fitness with no new injuries reported after Tuesday and only centre half George Taft (hamstring) unlikely to be in the frame.
Murray mixed his squad up on Tuesday at Derby with five changes and they all played well giving him plenty of headaches for Saturday after a decent showing in the home FA Cup defeat by Plymouth four days earlier.
POSSIBLE STAGS STARTING XI (4-2-3-1)
Jensen, Bennett; Pearce, Collins, Benning; McGuire, Clements; M. Rose, Baxendale, Hemmings; Green.
PORTSMOUTH TEAM NEWS
Pompey will again be without Amine Linganzi, who is serving a three-match ban following his sending-off at Cambridge United.
However, skipper Michael Doyle is back from a one-game suspension and is an important presence in the side.
Cook must also decide who operates at right-back.
Midfielder Gareth Evans has stood in for 11 matches following injuries to Adam Buxton and Drew Talbot.
However, all are now fit and Buxton is the closest to dislodging him.
POSSIBLE PORTSMOUTH STARTING XI
Forde, Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens, Doyle, Rose, Baker, Roberts, Bennett, Chaplin.
KEY BATTLE: Gary Roberts v Jamie McGuire
Former Spireite Gary Roberts is Pompey’s leading scorer and leading assist maker, yet has gone a little off the boil of late.
He remains capable of magic, regardless, while puts in a tremendous shift from behind the lone striker, often moving up to partner him to add another goal threat.
Roberts is a class act, with a magnificent left foot, who has been involved in many promotion campaigns and play-off fixtures for a number of clubs over the years.
So, whether Jamie McGuire or Lee Collins operate in the holding midfield role, they will have a hard afternoon’s work ahead trying to stop him.
Click HERE to see Gary Roberts score from his own half
PORTSMOUTH ONE TO WATCH: CONOR CHAPLIN
Conor Chaplin is a massive fans’ favourite and is a teenager destined for a bright future.
He has scored five goals this season and established himself as Cook’s preferred striker, irrespective of his age.
Chaplin is not only a magnificent finisher, but capable of scoring out of absolutely nothing, racking up several goal of the season contenders already and he looks destined for bigger things.
OPPOSITION MANAGER: PAUL COOK
Former Chesterfield boss Paul Cook is currently Pompey’s longest-serving manager since Harry Redknapp departed in October 2008.
During his 17 months in charge, he has transformed Pompey into promotion challengers, playing some attractive football and recruiting a number of quality performers.
He has been tasked with winning promotion - this is his second season at achieving that goal.
Failure would be unthinkable for everyone concerned.
PORTSMOUTH SEASON SO FAR
Following the disappointment of losing in the play-off semi-finals to Plymouth, hopes were again high of winning promotion this season.
Paul Cook built on those impressive foundations with a number of summer signings, many from League One.
Despite chalking up four successive wins early in the season, inconsistency and a penchant for conceding sloppy goals defensive have dogged their progress.
Nonetheless, victory over Mansfield could see Pompey breaking into the top three.
LAST MEETING AT FRATTON PARK
Saturday, 24th October 2015: Portsmouth 0, Mansfield Town 0
It was second against fourth in the game of the day in League Two and Mansfield produced a very solid display to earn a point at Portsmouth.
Portsmouth had more of the possession but a superb display in particular from the Stags defence restricted the home side to only a few clear cut chances.
Lee Collins and Ryan Tafazolli were excellent at the heart of the Stags defence, and one challenge by Collins on Stevens just as Stevens was about to shoot was quite outstanding.
Nicky Hunt and Blair Adams also produced very fine displays either side of the central defenders, with Hunt producing one fine block and Adams clearing off the line from a shot from Chaplin which was about as close as Portsmouth came.
Behind the back four, Brian Jensen made one very good save, tipping over a shot from Davies, but he only had one other save to make which was a shot from Stevens that was straight at him. Once again Mansfield demonstrated that they were extremely hard to beat and the accolade of conceding the equal fewest number of goals in League Two at that point of the season had been well-earned.
In truth Mansfield created little in terms of goalscoring opportunities but the midfield and forward line worked extremely hard to keep hold of the ball.
The Stags ended the day just a point behind the automatic promotion places, though dropped one place to fifth.
Click HERE to read the full match report
GROUND AND TICKETS
The picturesque and historic Fratton Park Fratton Park has been the home of Pompey since its construction in 1898.
The original entrance to Fratton End is notable for its mock Tudor façade.
To get there, go along the M27 (ignoring the M275 turn off for Portsmouth town centre) and continue on to the A27.
At the junction with the A2030 turn right towards Southsea/Fratton and just continue straight along the A2030 and eventually you will see the ground in front of you, just slightly to your left.
There is a large car park behind the TY Europe Stand, but this is for home supporters only.
So it is mostly street parking for away fans.
The good news is that there are few parking restrictions in place close to the ground. So if you arrive early enough, you can park only a few minutes walk away.
Try one of the side streets, found on the right hand side of the A2030 before you reach the Good Companion pub.
Alternatively try Miltoncross School, which is a five minute walk from the ground offers parking at £6 per car.
The school is located in Milton Road (post code PO3 6RB).
There is also a very large car park (for a fiver) on the corner of Velder Avenue and Milton Road (a couple of minutes walk behind the away end).
Post Code for SAT NAV: PO4 8RA
Although Mansfield are selling tickets from the One Call Stadium in advance, Stags’ supporters will also be able to purchase tickets on the day at Fratton Park, with no price increase.
Prices are: Adult £20, Senior (62+) £15, Young person (18-22) £15, Unaccompanied junior (under 18) £10, Accompanied junior (U18 with paying adult/senior) £5, Wheelchair user and carer £12, Ambulant senior (62+) £12, Ambulant junior (under 18) £10.
Don’t forget to read the match report at www.chad.co.uk after the game.
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