No win in two games classes as a bad run for Rovers at the moment, so off we go to the South Coast to try and put it right…
17 points, 3rd in the table…it is a “satisfactory” opening ten games according to Darren Ferguson, who rightly acknowledges that we can be better despite almost being exactly where we want to be at present. Indeed, if the season were to end right now I think we’d all be pleased, as it’d mean we will be making the immediate return to League One that has been demanded by all at the club.
Luton undid us in our last away outing, and despite a good response on Tuesday a draw was all that could be taken from a combative encounter with Carlisle, so Rovers are yet to beat a true promotion rival. Our next opponents Portsmouth are exactly that, the favourites for the title who unfortunately are scoring goals for fun at Fratton Park.
Despite this Rovers are the highest scoring team in the division outright, a fact that also enables to sit directly above Portsmouth, and the automatic promotion line, by virtue of netting more in the first ten games. That stat could be even better, but Rovers have ironically struggled to put away chances including three penalty misses, all from different players after Tommy Rowe’s spot kick struck a post with the scores at 2-1 against Carlisle.
Portsmouth have scored in every home game going back to March, and have 12 goals in their last 3 matches on home turf, winning the lot. The Pompey ranks include no less than four ex-Rovers players, and whilst Enda Stevens and Milan Lalkovic can probably expect good receptions from the travelling fans the same cannot be said of Kyle Bennett or Curtis Main, two players who flattered to deceive in the red and white hoops.
Rovers may finally turn to Mathieu Baudry to start in central defence, but it would be wise to expect minimal changes again as Fergie looks to keep the consistency in our ranks going. James Coppinger has begun to look a little weary in the past week but is still a pivotal part of the midfield, and strike duo Williams and Marquis will look to continue their personal battle for the Golden Boot, now locked together on five apiece along with Coppinger.
One to Watch
Eyes may turn to Curtis Main if he is selected, but the biggest threat up front for Portsmouth has to be Conor Chaplin. The teenager is carving out a great reputation for himself having broken into the first team at the back end of the 2014/15 season, and has scored 3 goals in his last 4 games.
John Marquis scored another superb effort against Carlisle, bringing his tally for the season up to five, and he will have a point to prove going back to one of the many clubs with whom he spent time on loan from Millwall. Marquis is also one booking away from a ban, which would be a big blow to the front line that lacks any real cover.