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Wycombe Wanderers will be looking to bounce back from defeat last time out as they host Portsmouth at Adams Park.
Wycombe Wanderers come into this one off the back of a draw in the FA Cup, with a much-changed Chairboys side battling to a 2-2 draw on the road against Hartlepool United. Forino-Joseph was given a start from the off by Ainsworth, and so he could well be in line to have a start in this one as well as they look to return to winning ways in the league and continue their strong start to keep the pressure up on the sides around them in the table. Ainsworth comes into this one affected by international call-ups, with Darryl Horgan and Tjay de Barr both unavailable for selection in this one having gone away with their national sides for the latest batch of international games.
Chairboys manager Gareth Ainsworth was defiant coming into this one that his side put behind them what he called a “setback” last time out in the league, as they lost 4-1 to Ipswich Town in which they struggled and didn’t look anything like themselves.
That defeat to The Tractorboys was their first defeat in five league games, and so although it would have been concerning to him the manner in which they lost, he was quick to sweep it under the carpet and focus on winning this one against an under-strength Pompey side. This is a good opportunity for Ainsworth’s side to pile pressure onto their fellow promotion rivals, with Wigan Athletic and Rotherham United both out of action this weekend.
Portsmouth come into this one a little depleted, with Cowley unable to pick a number of players for varying reasons, with British pair Gavin Bazunu and Joe Morrell both on international duty, while trio Robertson, Harrison and Tunnicliffe all on the sidelines with injuries.
Cowley, however, has stressed in the run up to this game that he is not going to except the excuse of them being under-strength as a reason why they cannot apply themselves as strongly in this one, and is looking for a strong display. Alex Bass will come into the eleven in place of Bazunu.
Cowley will head to Adams Park with belief in the strength of their options in reserve, with their win in midweek against a youthful Palace side doing wonders to help him decide the make-up of his side coming into this one, with Ahadme, Azeez and Hirst all registering their first goal for Pompey and so they can all make cases to come into the side in place of Harrison in attack. Hughes and Payce – youngsters from the academy – both made their debuts for the club in that win during midweek, and so both could well be line for a first start in League One here, or at least take to a spot on the bench.
Prediction: Wycombe Wanderers 2-1 Portsmouth
I think that this will be a close game, and although Cowley has said that he won’t lie down in the face of his selection dilemmas and will give it a right good go, I think that an experienced and wily Wycombe side may well just have too much for Pompey and will emerge as the winners in this one. I am going for the home side to win this 2-1, with goals from Akinfenwa and Scowen and Jacobs in reply for the visitors.
One to Watch: Joe Jacobson – In what I expect to be a tight game by way of Cowley’s tactical nuances to try and keep Pompey in it, it could well be set-pieces that is the difference in this one and in defender Joe Jacobson, The Chairboys have the best set-piece taker in the entire Football League. He puts the ball in at pace and accuracy and could well cause a problem for Pompey.
Wycombe Wanderers: (5-3-2) Stockdale; Grimmer, Stewart, Tafazolli, Jacobson, McCarthy; Scowen, Wheeler, Kaikai; Akinfenwa, Vokes
Portsmouth: (4-2-3-1) Bass; Romeo, Raggett, Ogilvie, Brown; Williams, Thompson; Azeez, Harness, Curtis; Marquis
Photo: Liam Howes