Off The Line Preview: Pompey v Cambridge United

Fan Hub partner Off The Line previews Pompey’s clash with the U’s.

You can read their full Sky Bet League One weekend preview here.

Portsmouth and Cambridge United will both be looking to bounce back to winning ways at Fratton Park after falling to defeat last time out.

For Portsmouth, they come into the weekend looking to put an end to their losing run, having lost the last two games in the league. They have still made a relatively confident starting to the league season, with three wins and a draw inside their opening four league matches putting them amongst the early fast-starters in the division, albeit back-to-back defeats – including away to MK Dons last time out – has seen them drop down the division and such is the closeness of the league, they currently find themselves sitting 11th.

However, Danny Cowley will be slightly optimistic as to their chances, as the past two defeats have only come by the single goal and so they are still remaining competitive in games.

To think that we are six games into the regular season and Pompey have only conceded two goals so far in the league is some achievement in itself, and so the aim for Cowley is to try and get his side playing with a little more attacking threat, as they have certainly showed that defensively they are a strong outfit and that they are difficult to play against and break down.

That will be the challenge for Pompey, is to try and play with a little more attacking adventure. Ronan Curtis and John Marquis are both players that on their day have shown to be some of the better attacking operators in the EFL, let alone just League One, but they have both yet to really get going this term and so going forward that may well be a worry for them.

They do look a little short in these areas, and so Cowley will hope that in the coming weeks they are able to find their feet and bolster their efforts, as their return in the final third of four goals is poor to say the least; only Shrewsbury Town, Crewe Alexandra and Doncaster Rovers have scored fewer, and they all currently occupy a spot in the relegation zone.

On the other hand, the visitors to Fratton Park are one of last season’s newly-promoted sides, with Cambridge United heading to the South Coast.

It was always going to be difficult for them to adjust to League One after the players they lost during the summer, but manager Mark Bonner may actually be rather optimistic about his team’s chances and indeed the start that they have made to the season, with eight points out of their first six league games perhaps representing a good return for a side still trying to find their feet at this level.

They were humbled last week as they were beaten by Lincoln City in a 5-1 home defeat, and he will be hoping that his side can bounce back from that and show what they are made of this weekend, or at least put in a more positive display here against a side that are by no means pulling up any trees so far this term.

They are going to have a tough test of their attacking credentials, as Pompey have looked strong defensively so far this term. Joe Ironside has four goals to his name, but he has slowed up a little in recent weeks and he so he will be looking to get back on the scoring trail this weekend. They continue without skipper Greg Taylor, who has been rouled out with long-term injury, and so 

Prediction: Portsmouth 1-0 Cambridge United

I think that this will be a close match between two sides with a point to prove.

The way they are playing at the moment, all games involving Pompey are a close one by virtue of them struggling for goals, but I think that they will have enough about them in this one to keep it close and then have the moment of quality to win the game.

I am going for a narrow 1-0 victory to the hosts, with Curtis scoring the only goal of the game for Danny Cowley’s side.

One to Watch: Ronan Curtis – Irish international Ronan Curtis has certainly not been the customer that we know he can be this season, with Curtis like many of the attacking players struggling to find their best form in this Cowley side so far this term. However, he is – on his day – one of the better players not only in this Pompey team, but indeed in the entire division, and I think he may well make the difference in this one.

Last Time: Portsmouth beat Cambridge United 2-0 in April 2017 on their way to promotion and the League 2 title. Carl Baker and Kal Naismith netted for the Blues, before Luke Berry hit a late consolation for the U’s.

Photo: Portsmouth FC

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