Oxford v Pompey: Gaffer for a day

Pompey fan Chris Thornton, aged 16, from Waterlooville, gives his thoughts ahead of the match at Oxford...

Saturday, 12th August 2017, 1:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 11:54 am
Ben Close. Picture: Joe Pepler

This is going to be quite a tough game, but I think we might be able to scrape a 2-1 win.

Like us, Oxford won their opening match 2-0 and have more experience at this level in their squad, while matches between the teams tend to be close.

But I expect us to win in a season which I believe can see us reach the play-offs.

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We are the bookies’ third favourites for promotion, yet the majority of the fans would be happy for a mid-table finish. There certainly won’t be the pressure on the players we saw last season.

Although I didn’t see the opening game against Rochdale, I saw us in three pre-season friendlies and Brett Pitman is a touch of class who can hold the ball up well.

The striker also had that perseverance for the first goal last weekend and I think will score 20-plus goals for us this season.

Looking at Kenny Jackett’s starting XI, it is such a shame that Tareiq Holmes-Dennis is out. Instead I would move Drew Talbot to left-back and Gareth Evans to right-back.

In fairness, I wouldn’t mind seeing Brandon Haunstrup get a game and Jackett has said he is happy to play the youngsters. However, my concern would be he came off with cramp at Cardiff so may not also be able to feature at Oxford.

I don’t mind seeing Evans back at full-back, he is good enough defensively considering he is an attacking midfielder.

The other change would be Ben Close recalled into the centre of midfield, with Carl Baker switched to the right-hand side.

For me, Baker has been lacking in that role, he does not have much of a presence and can go missing at times.

Close just edges it ahead of Adam May after a great pre-season.

My Pompey XI

Luke McGee

Gareth Evans

Christian Burgess

Jack Whatmough

Drew Talbot

Danny Rose

Ben Close

Carl Baker

Brett Pitman

Kyle Bennett

Conor Chaplin