Wycombe v Pompey: The Insider

Injured Joe Jacobson, left, has been missed by Wycombe
Injured Joe Jacobson, left, has been missed by Wycombe
Pompey boss Kenny Jackett, right. Picture: Shaun Boggust

Pompey boss sees cause for attacking optimism

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Gareth Ainsworth has been quite vocal in trying to keep expectations realistic – although certainly not low – this season.

The game plan is to get 61 points to ensure Wycombe finish mid-table, but if they can get that quickly the play-offs would be a secondary target.

At present they are ninth, a position which is not entirely true as they have two games in hand on almost every team in League Two.

The Chairboys have had two fixtures postponed due to the oppositions’ players on international duty, so taking that into account they are currently in quite a good position.

Bearing that in mind, they are four points off Portsmouth in fourth place – with two games in hand.

Although, undoubtedly, tomorrow’s fixture will be a stern test against a team which hit six goals in a half during the week.

Overall it is going quite well for the Chairboys, despite a blip which saw them lose four-in-a-row during the month of October.

They included Northampton, Stevenage and Newport County, while there was also elimination from the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at the hands of Bristol Rovers.

Since October 20, however, they are undefeated – a run which stretches to five matches in all competitions, of which four have come on their travels.

Recently Ainsworth’s side have demonstrated they are solid at the back, with three clean sheets in the last four encounters reflecting performances built more on defensive solidity and not attacking flair.

They have even managed to survive the loss of Marcus Bean and Joe Jacobson – two keys players and automatic choices in the team.

Bean, who had a loan spell at Portsmouth last season, performs well as a defensive midfielder and has been an important screen in front of the back four.

Still, Matt Bloomfield is a reliable, experienced head who has gone in there and shown they can still cope with the switch.

As for Jacobson, he would take all the free-kicks and most of the corners, so Sam Wood has now taken over those duties.

His absence has prompted a defensive reorganisation, with Sido Jombati moving from right-back to left-back and Jason McCarthy going from the centre of defence to right-back.

In the two matches since Jacobson picked up his back injury they have only conceded once – a scrappy last-minute goal against AFC Wimbledon – so Wycombe have fared very well.

In terms of those who have excelled this year, Luke O’Nien was a free agent, formerly with Watford, and has fitted in really well.

He is an energetic, up-and-down midfielder who does everything well.

In goal, Matt Ingram has also been really good.