PREVIEW: Wanderers v Portsmouth

Wanderers are back at home for the first time in more than three weeks to take on a Portsmouth side level on points with the Whites.

Pompey have played two games fewer as they look to pursue a play-off place but an 11th home success of the season for Ian Evatt’s men would take them above the visitors and into the top 10.

Portsmouth haven’t played a game since 19 March after sitting out last weekend’s fixtures when scheduled opponents Rotherham were involved in the Papa John’s Trophy final.

Wanderers, meanwhile, finished on a high in their 1-1 draw at Wigan and will be looking to take the momentum of a late equaliser into big home games against Pompey and then fifth-placed Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.

Quotes from the managers:

Ian Evatt: “We want to finish as high as we can. We set the players a target at the end of January to how many points we can get to and that is still achievable now.

“It does not look like that will be enough to get in the play-offs and this is kind of a freakish year for that.

“But all we can do is try to win every game we play.

“We’re professionals and we want to win every game. We’ll certainly be doing that in the next two home games and see where that takes us.”

Portsmouth manager Danny Cowley: “There are some top League One performers at Bolton and we know it will be tough, but we’re looking forward to it.

“We know that the difference between teams in this division is small and we’ve proven before that we can put good runs together.

“There are eight games to go for us and so we have to negotiate this run – that will define how we finish this season.”

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Team news:

Wanderers will give fitness checks to top scorer Dapo Afolayan and midfielder Kyle Dempsey.

Wing-back Declan John remains a doubt after missing Saturday’s draw at Wigan with a back problem and midfield man Kieran Lee is not yet ready to return.

Pompey have no new injury concerns and could welcome back midfielder Shaun Williams for the first time since the end of January following a back injury.

Form guide:

Wanderers return home looking for a first win in three on their own patch after seeing their six-game winning home streak ended in early March.

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Defeat to Plymouth last time was a first home loss since mid-January and an only defeat in five games for Ian Evatt’s men, whose draw at high-flying Wigan on Saturday made it three without loss on the road.

Portsmouth have lost just one of their last 10 games – a 1-0 defeat at Plymouth Argyle in their last away game.

However, a return of just two points from the last possible nine – albeit against potential play-off rivals Plymouth, Ipswich and Wycombe – has slowed their top-six push.

Last meeting:

Portsmouth 1-0 Wanderers | Saturday, 30 October, 2021

Wanderers lost to a single second-half strike in the autumn sunshine at Fratton Park.

Both sides were in need of a win with Wanderers looking for a first victory in five and Pompey seeking only a second league success since mid-August.

One goal felt like it would be enough to claim the points and Wanderers nearly went in front when Declan John rattled a post just before the break.

But one lapse then proved costly as John Marquis was able to flick home the decisive strike six minutes after the break.

Wanderers – short of attacking opitons – piled on the pressure late on but couldn’t force an equaliser to slip below Portsmouth to 14th in the table.

Wanderers: Dixon; Isgrove (Brockbank 72), Santos, Aimson (Johnston 72), John; Williams; Delfouneso (Sheehan 56), Afolayan, Lee, Kachunga; Doyle. Substitutes: Gilks, Thomason, Baptiste, Gordon.


Referee: Marc Edwards

Assistant referees: Ian Smedley and Richard Woodward

Fourth official: Conor Brown

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