Ipswich Town fan Alex Mitchell looks ahead to the Blues’ FA Cup clash with Portsmouth

Danny Haynes has a last-ditch shot to try and save Ipswich Town from a 1-0 defeat to Portsmouth in 2

Danny Haynes has a last-ditch shot to try and save Ipswich Town from a 1-0 defeat to Portsmouth in 2008.

League Two Portsmouth are the visitors to Portman Road this weekend. Alex Mitchell looks ahead to the FA Cup third round clash.

Gary Roberts is back at Portman Road this weekend

Gary Roberts is back at Portman Road this weekend - Credit: Ashley Pickering

After making a trip to the south coast last season for an FA Cup third-round tie at Southampton, this year sees the south coast come to Portman Road in the shape of the Saints’ rivals, Portsmouth.

OPPONENTS

2008 winners Portsmouth have had a traumatic eight years since they beat Cardiff City 1-0 at Wembley to win their first FA Cup in 59 years, but after dropping down to League Two, the club now look to be on the road to recovery, currently sitting fourth in the table.

Pompey manager Paul Cook has said some interesting words ahead of their visit to Portman Road, including saying: “the quicker we get out of the competition the better,” with league games being the priority as they chase promotion.

KEY BATTLES

A key player for the visitors will be former Town midfielder Gary Roberts. The winger left Ipswich back in 2008 after making 54 appearances, and he is certainly a tricky customer on his day and could cause our left-back issues.

Most Read

The Portsmouth man will most likely go up against Jonathan Parr with Mick McCarthy likely to rest a number of first team players after a busy Christmas period.

A winger for us that could get a chance to show what he can do is Tommy Oar. The Australian hasn’t been able to nail a place in the first-team yet after being concussed against Huddersfield back in October. The Socceroo looked good at Manchester United in the League cup, and he could give Portsmouth right back Ben Davies a torrid afternoon if he’s up to speed.

TEAM SELECTION

Trying to guess what team Mick McCarthy will put out is a tricky task, but if the league cup match against Stevenage is anything to go by it will be a mixture of senior first team players, with a few youngsters getting their chance too.

New signing Paul Digby could be involved after it was announced this week he had joined on-loan from Barnsley, and Bartosz Bialkowski is almost certain to be between the posts.

Christophe Berra has been in the wars recently so should get a rest, and he could be replaced by Polish defender Piotr Malarczyk who has been unlucky to not get many chances in the first team after joining in the summer.

In the midfield, we could see fringe players such as Giles Coke given a chance, and Luke Hyam could also keep his place after playing 90 minutes at Burnley last weekend. On the right side, Luke Varney could get his first start of the season after making four substitute appearances in recent weeks.

Up front I expect Brett Pitman to start, and he could be accompanied by Freddie Sears after putting in a number of fantastic performances this season. But if he was to be rested, we may see James Alabi given a chance after his goal at Doncaster in the League Cup.

FA CUP FORM

Town haven’t won an FA Cup match since 2010, with their last two ties going to a replay before losing on both occasions. Along the way, Ipswich have conceded 18 goals in their last seven FA Cup ties, a bad statistic for the Tractor Boys.

Before this season, Portsmouth have exited the FA Cup on the first attempt for five seasons in a row. But two home wins against Macclesfield and Accrington Stanley have earned Pompey a trip to Ipswich in the third round.

This will be the third time Town have hosted Portsmouth in the FA Cup third round in ten years, with the visitors winning 1-0 on both previous occasions, firstly back in 2006 thanks to a Dario Silva goal, and secondly in 2008, this time courtesy of a David Nugent goal.

LAST VISIT

The last time Portsmouth made the trip to Ipswich was back in 2011, the year Pompey were relegated from the Championship, and the Tractor Boys came out on top thanks to a 1-0 win, Keith Andrews the scorer.

PREDICTION

With McCarthy likely resting a high amount of first team players, this game will be very tight, but I still back Ipswich to have too much for Portsmouth. 2-1.