Opposition View: Expectations have risen at Portsmouth

Jamal Lowe
Jamal Lowe

This weekend’s opponents Portsmouth are among the bookmakers’ favourites to gain promotion from League One.

We spoke to Neil Allen, chief sports writer for the Portsmouth News, to get the lowdown on Pompey.

Q: What are the expectations at Portsmouth this season?

NA: Last term marked a return to League One for Pompey and was very much earmarked as a season of consolidation.

Subsequently, Kenny Jackett steered the Blues to an eighth-placed finish and five points short of the play-off spots.

It represented an encouraging campaign - and inevitably progress dictates the sights are aimed higher this time around.

The play-offs are definitely a realistic outcome.

Q: How do you rate the job Kenny Jackett has done at the club?

NA: After over-exceeding expectations under Jackett last season, Pompey have started the League One campaign off extremely well.

A manager with plenty of experience in winning promotion, he inherited an ageing League Two title-winning squad and has steadily given it a younger look.

In the process, he has created a strong squad, packed with promising players and looking capable of a play-off challenge.

Expectations among the Fratton Park faithful are a lot higher this time around, but Jackett knows what he’s doing.

Q: What style of play and system does Jackett prefer?

NA: During his maiden Pompey season, the former Millwall boss didn’t stray far from the 4-2-3-1 system ingrained so successfully in the club.

This time around he has varied how his side lines up, although a 4-3-3 has been prevalent.

Oli Hawkins has replaced last term’s 25-goal Brett Pitman as the central striker, with pacey and direct widemen Ronan Curtis and Jamal Lowe flanking him.

Q: Who are the dangermen for Pompey?

NA: Jamal Lowe flourished in his first full season for Pompey last term - and has maintained that impressive development.

The right-sided winger scored three times in his opening three League One matches of the current campaign and is a massively influential figure.

Midfielder Ben Thompson turned in a magnificent debut last weekend against Oxford United following a season-long loan from Millwall to whet the Fratton faithful’s appetite.

And towering striker Oli Hawkins has weighed in with four assists from two matches since returning to the side.

Q:What is your match prediction?

NA: Pompey have already this season found ways of winning when performing below-par in League One.

It has been an encouraging start - and supporters will be confident of earning at least a point from today.

However, the Blues have failed to win any of their last six meetings with Doncaster, stretching back more than six years.

Anyhow, I’m going for an honour’s shared 1-1 draw.