Pompey pre-season predictions make for interesting reading

Ben Sturt has backed former Pompey midfielder Shaun Derry to lead Cambridge United to promotion      Picture: Joe Pepler

Ben Sturt has backed former Pompey midfielder Shaun Derry to lead Cambridge United to promotion Picture: Joe Pepler

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Hello. My name is Ben Sturt, I am 17 years old and have been a season-ticket holder in the Fratton End for more than a decade.

In this column, I discuss the key talking points at Pompey – from the perspective of a younger supporter...

Before the start of the season I made a prediction in this column as to which teams would finish in the top seven and who would be relegated.

Now we are at the halfway stage of the 2016-17 campaign, I am revisiting my prediction – and thankfully it is not as bad as I thought.

Back in August, I predicted Wycombe would win the league, with Pompey and Cambridge United in second and third.

I said that Doncaster, Luton, Notts County and Exeter City would occupy the play-off places.

And I claimed that Barnet and Morecambe would not beat the drop.

Predictions are interesting because despite being left red-faced, they can indicate the general consensus as to who is going to fare well and who not so much.

Probably my biggest mistake was to exclude Plymouth from the play-off contingent.

But considering the high turnover of players at Home Park, especially the loss of key team members, it has come as a shock to see them doing so well.

Admittedly I did not rate the Pilgrims’ signings but they’ve proved to be a robust and dangerous outfit under Derek Adams.

At the start of the campaign my shout for a top three of Wycombe, Pompey and Cambridge looked embarrassingly off the mark.

But all three sides are loitering around play-off places after slow starts.

It is a formality now that Gareth Ainsworth overachieves with the Chairboys every season on a shoestring budget.

Their solid form means I back them to cement a play-off place.

As for Cambridge, they have hit the kind of form Pompey need.

A stream of wins has propelled Shaun Derry’s men up the table, and I still believe they will gain automatic promotion.

They seem destined to keep key and promising players Will Norris, Luke Berry and Uche Ikpeazu.

A top goalkeeper, a playmaker and a strong powerful striker.

Some would say exactly what Pompey need.

Doncaster, who I stated would finish fourth, have impressed, and I think will now win the league.

The addition of Connor Grant on loan from Everton is quite a coup for this level.

Notts County are certainly falling below the play-off mark I set them, on the other hand Barnet are exceeding expectations.

However, I think overall the League Two table is providing little shocks.

Those teams with the bigger budgets and stable off-field predicaments are near the top, with the less fortunate sides struggling.

So here’s my halfway-mark prediction: Doncaster will win the title, with Pompey and Cambridge coming in second and third respectively.

The play-off places will be occupied by Plymouth, Wycombe, Carlisle and Luton – in that order.

Who will go down is anyone’s guess.

I still fancy Newport County to put a run together to survive under Graham Westley.

I believe so-called big-hitters Leyton Orient and Notts County will really, really struggle.

I suppose we can all pretend to be experts...

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