Clash of form teams will be a tough test for Pompey
By Site reporter
Monday 07 Mar 2011 21:29:00
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It’s hard to preview a Pompey game and concentrate on that game at the moment. Games aren’t games on their own merits any more – for the time being, they are part of the bigger picture. In the case of Pompey’s trip to Bristol City, it’s all about whether they can gain a seventh straight win and clean sheet.

This 100 per cent run will end some time but then we were saying that after it was only a couple of games old, and it hasn’t finished yet. The Blues have been fortunate to have had a run of games against sides in the lower half of the division – a half they no longer occupy themselves – but the visit to Ashton Gate could well be one of the tougher assignments of recent weeks.


Bristol City’s form has hauled them clear of the bottom group in the Championship in much the same way Pompey’s has. They were bottom for some time but now sit 15th – nine points above the relegation zone and on a high after an excellent 4-1 win at Coventry on Saturday.

That was the Robins’ third win in a row, a run which has also brought victories at Watford and at home to Scunthorpe.

But Pompey’s recent run is considerably more impressive. Were they to win in Bristol, it would equal the club record of seven straight league victories – a feat achieved three times in the past and last managed early in the triumphant 2002-03 season.

To emulate that with the assortment of loanees, rejects and youngsters who have done Pompey proud at times this season, compared to the relatively-expensively assembled team of eight seasons ago, would be a hell of an achievement.

The feat of not conceding a goal in all those victories has become almost as celebrated as the wins themselves. Jamie Ashdown last picked a goal out of his net 11 minutes before half-time in the home game versus Derby on February 5. Since then, they have played 596 minutes without conceding, thanks largely to the efforts of Ashdown and the now-settled defence in front of him.

That back four of Ritchie de Laet, Hermann Hreidarsson, Ricardo Rocha and Greg Halford seem certain to start again at Ashton Gate, where Pompey have not lost since March 1994, as will most of the midfield and attack who defeated Sheffield United at the weekend.

The one doubt from Saturday’s startling line-up is Hayden Mullins, who is struggling with a calf injury. Aaron Mokoena stands by to come into his place.

Pompey boss Steve Cotterill is delighted to be talking about his team’s successes and not their failures, as he was just a few weeks ago, but is warning that Tuesday’s game is a clash of two sides in form.

He told the Pompey website: ‘Bristol City are on a good run themselves at the moment and have had three good wins, so it should be a good game. We won’t be taking them lightly, for sure, and all credit to them for putting the team together they have.

‘They’ve got a few quick boys in their side, but so have we. I think it might be a case of who has the better quality on the night. I like Bristol City, a club down the road from where I grew up in Cheltenham.

‘Bristol City have been big for me over the years. They’re a good club with a good chairman and vice-chairman. Keith Millen got handed the reigns as manager when Steve Coppell left and has done a really good job.’

Steven Caulker is a doubt for City. The on-loan Tottenham defender was forced off after 34 minutes of the victory at Coventry with a recurrence of the hip problem that saw him substituted in the previous game against Scunthorpe. Damion Stewart could replace him.

Midfielders Jamal Campbell-Ryce and Lee Johnson and strikers Brett Pitman and Andy Keogh are also available for recalls.

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