Cambridge Utd v Pompey: Matt Tubbs looking to extend his remarkable record

Matt Tubbs has had a frustrating start to the season but he could put that behind him at the Abbey Stadium. Picture: Joe Pepler
Matt Tubbs has had a frustrating start to the season but he could put that behind him at the Abbey Stadium. Picture: Joe Pepler
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If Matt Tubbs needed a goalscoring pick-me-up, the trip to Cambridge United could be just what the doctor ordered.

The Pompey striker – who was League Two’s leading goalscorer last season with 21 goals – has endured a difficult start to the campaign with just two goals to his name so far.

Aside from his penalty at PlymouthArgyle, he has netted just once – at Luton Town – and is without a strike since August.

But his opportunities have been limited and he has found himself on the Pompey bench with boss Paul Cook opting to use a 4-2-3-1 formation for much of the campaign.

There has been plenty of debate about whether the system suits the former AFC Bournemouth man and he often looks more comfortable alongside a strike partner.

But he was recalled to the starting line-up for the 0-0 draw with Yeovil Town last week for his first start since the 3-3 draw with Morecambe.

He then partnered Jayden Stockley in a two-pronged strikeforce for the second half, although he barely got a glimpse of goal – apart from two half-chances with headers.

It remains to be seen whether Cook will be tempted to use a similar formation at the Abbey Stadium tomorrow.

But despite the ongoing debate over the best method in breaking down defensive teams at Fratton Park, there can be little argument his preferred set-up has worked impressively on the road so far.

Whatever tactical plan the Blues boss comes up with, he will find it hard to ignore Tubbs’ claims for a place in the side simply because of his extraordinary record against the same club.

The striker has netted nine goals in eight matches against Cambridge – stretching across his spells with Salisbury, Crawley and AFC Wimbledon.

It was already an impressive record before last season’s trip for Pompey.

But he took his exploits to a new level when he smashed in a hat-trick in the same fixture last term as Andy Awford’s side romped to a 6-2 victory.

In the wake of the frustrating 0-0 draw with Yeovil, Cook admitted he would gladly take one goal if it secured a win for his side.

And he also hinted Tubbs could do with a goal to lift his confidence. Cook said: ‘I went with Tubbsy against Yeovil and I thought he was smashing.

‘He just needs that goal at the moment but he didn’t get too many chances in the game.

‘If I had dragged him off after 60 minutes, what would that have done for his confidence?’

If Tubbs does need his spirits lifting, it might do him some good to recall one of the better goals of his career he netted for Salisbury from the centre circle back in March 2010 as he lobbed the stranded goalkeeper.

And last season’s treble was one of the highlights of the campaign on the road for Blues fans as Jed Wallace, Paul Robinson and Ryan Taylor were also on target.

But it will be a very different Pompey side making the trip this time around.

Of the team that won last season, just Danny Hollands and Tubbs are expected to be in the matchday squad.