By Site reporter
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Last time Pompey visited Notts County, the Gregorys were running Fratton Park. Oh how we long for such stability now.
That was in December 1994 when Jim Smith was fighting to keep hold of his job as manager. That day, Pompey needed a win got one.
Nearly 18 years later, they need a result again, although this time worries over the ownership far outweigh the minor issue of whether they may pick up a point or three.
Secondary though it is to the overall Pompey picture, the prospect of a positive result is nontheless important after back-to-back home defeats in the past week.
Walsall and Swindon's victories at Fratton have left Pompey too near the relegation zone for comfort, a real setback after wins over Bournemouth in the JPT and at Crawley in the league. The defeats have also had some fans questioning whether Michael Appleton is really getting the best out of the many players he has sent into action in this fledgling season - a harsh way to look at it given the impressive way he has led from the front during a turbulent summer.
Appleton is happy to be on the road - albeit it to face the team sitting third - after a couple of struggles at home. He told the club website: 'The performance against Walsall wasn’t up to scratch, but I thought we played well against Swindon. It was a really good game of football and both teams played their part. There were plenty of chances at both ends and it could have gone either way.
'But going away doesn’t bring the same kind of pressure that you get at Fratton Park. Notts County are flying high at the top of the table. They’ll play 4-3-3, get the ball forward early and hit diagonal balls – we’re well aware of their strengths and weaknesses. We’ll go there fully prepared and look for a repeat of the performance we produced in the last 20 minutes against Swindon.
'They’ve got a big pitch which, if anything, should help us. We’re not going to crash the ball from A to B and it will hopefully give the better footballers a chance to get a bit of space. It doesn’t matter what the situation is off the pitch – it’s always nice to win a game of football. I don’t think we’re a million miles away from that, but we have to cross that line and do the business over 90 minutes.'
Pompey have a fully-fit squad to choose from, although they have let Kevin Long and Conor Clifford go to free up space in the squad. Appleton is trying to sign a striker but at the time of writing had not succeeded in time for the Meadow Lane visit.
Notts County, whose pre-match team talk will be carried out by one of Nottingham's Paralympics heroes, are without midfielder Andre Boucaud - he is banned after an appeal against his red card at Oldham was rejected by the FA. The Magpies will assess the fitness of left-back Alan Sheehan, who has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury. Fellow defenders Manny Smith (knee) and Tom Williams (calf) are ruled out.
Our prediction: County 2 Pompey 2
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