A trip to the south coast beckons for Port Vale this Saturday as we return to the road to face Portsmouth at Fratton Park.
Saturday’s hosts have endured a topsy-turvy season so far and with nine games left John Mousinho’s side sits 9th in the league on 57 points, seven points adrift from the play-off spots.
Pompey are starting to hit form at the right time as they fight to make the top six, and in their last match, they came out 2-0 victors away at Bristol Rovers, an important win.
Unfortunately for Vale, we did not enjoy the same fortune last weekend, falling to a narrow 3-2 defeat at Vale Park against Burton Albion.
Last Saturday’s defeat means we go into this fixture in 16th on 44 points, a strong position in our first season back in the third tier.
In this article, we take a look into the Hampshire side and what we can expect from them when the two teams collide at Fratton Park on Saturday.
ONE TO WATCH: Colby Bishop
Colby Bishop has been the standout star in an inconsistent for Pompey, netting 20 goals in all competitions for the Hampshire side in all competitions.
Bishop’s career has skyrocketed in recent years after many years playing non-league football earlier in his playing days.
The number nine started his career in his hometown of Nottingham with Notts County, spending many years in their youth set-up, before featuring in a handful of games in the first team.
After a short loan at Gloucester City in the 15-16 season, Bishop settled into non-league football for a few years, playing for the likes of Worcester City, Boston United, and Leamington.
However, in 2019 the youthful striker got his big break, moving to League One to sign for Lancashire side Accrington Stanley.
Bishop impressed in the north-west, scoring over 30 goals in his three seasons at Stanley, giving the forward many admirers across the country.
One of those admirers were Championship side Blackpool, who came close to signing the 25-year-old before Pompey swooped in to get their man this summer.
His first season on the south coast has been a successful one, and if Darrell Clarke’s side to secure victory on Saturday, we will have to keep the in-from striker quiet.
THE MAN AT THE HELM: John Mousinho
In the host's dugout, this weekend will be John Mousinho who was appointed as Pompey's head coach back in January.
This is Mousinho’s first role in management after only retiring midway through this season, even playing in League One earlier this campaign for his former side Oxford United.
The 36-year-old enjoyed a successful 18-year playing career in defence, with his professional debut back in 2005 for Brentford.
Mousinho went on to turn out for the likes of Wycombe Wanderers, Preston North End, and Burton Albion before signing on the dotted line for Oxford United in 2017.
The former defender went on to spend six years in Oxfordshire, even taking up a player-coach role in the final two.
Now the head coach at the south coast side, Mousinho has brought more consistency to the Portsmouth side as they look to make it into the play-off spots before the season is up.
STADIUM: Fratton Park
Pompey’s home is well known to many a fan around the country.
Famous for creating a fabulous atmosphere, Fratton Park has always been Portsmouth’s home, being the only stadium that the south-coast side have ever called their ground.
Built in 1899, the stadium can currently hold a capacity of 20,620 after some developments made in the last 20 years, including some refurbishments made over the summer.
We know that despite the long journey, you Valiants’ will be excited to travel down to Fratton Park and back the team.
HEAD-TO-HEAD LAST FIVE:
Vale wins: 1
Portsmouth wins: 3
We haven’t come across Portsmouth many times in recent years, but when we have, unfortunately, the Hampshire side have come out on top three out of the last five times.
The Valiants haven’t played at Fratton Park since 1999, and on that occasion, the points were shared as the two sides played out a stalemate.