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York City v Portsmouth: Pompey hit by rearguard blues
PORTSMOUTH’S leaky back line will be without Yassin Moutaouakil, Joe Devera and Shaun Cooper for tomorrow’s League Two clash at York City.
French right-back Moutaouakil will be serving the second game of a three-match suspension that he received for a red card – Pompey’s third of the season – after kicking out at Burton’s Jimmy Phillips towards the end of a 2-1 win for the south-coast club.
Ex-Bournemouth midfielder Cooper – his replacement at full-back during last weekend’s 1-0 home defeat to Fleetwood – is also now ruled out due to a groin injury, meaning Danny East is likely to deputise in the position.
A torn hamstring muscle, meanwhile, will prevent former Barnet and Swindon centre-back Devera returning to the heart of the defence, where one-time West Ham trainee Bondz N’Gala will continue to partner Sonny Bradley.
Only bottom-of-the-table Accrington (16) and fellow strugglers Cheltenham (19) have conceded more goals than the 14 shipped in League Two by 15th-placed Portsmouth this term.
The 2008 FA Cup winners have also failed to keep a clean sheet in eight League fixtures away from Fratton Park although, along with early pacesetters Chesterfield and Oxford, they are one of only three clubs in the division to remain unbeaten on the road.
In fact, an undefeated run of six away matches is the club’s longest since 2007 when, with Sol Campbell, David James, Glen Johnson and Kanu among their ranks, victories at the likes of Premier League hosts Fulham, Newcastle and Aston Villa heralded a brilliant run of seven straight triumphs on their travels.
Since suffering their third relegation in four seasons last spring, however, Portsmouth have beaten just Morecambe and Burton in the Football League’s lowest rung, although high-flying trio Oxford, Chesterfield and Fleetwood are the only teams to take maximum points off the 2008 Europa League contenders.
While boss Guy Whittingham’s team have struggled defensively so far in 2013/14, they are the joint-sixth top marksmen in the division with veteran striker David Connolly, now 36, leading the way with four goals from his six outings this season.
Connolly, who once commanded a £2 million transfer fee when he moved from Leicester to Wigan and then cost Sunderland £1.4m in 2006, has 140 career goals to his name in 405 appearances for ten different teams.
He also managed nine goals in 41 full internationals for the Republic of Ireland, for whom he had a penalty saved at the 2002 World Cup finals by Iker Casillas during a shoot-out defeat to Spain.
Connolly returned from a three-match ban during last weekend’s 1-0 home defeat to Fleetwood and is poised to partner Patrick Agyemang, signed from Stevenage on a permanent basis over the summer, in attack again.
Portsmouth (probable): Sullivan, Cooper, N’Gala, Bradley, Painter, Barcham, Ferry, Ertl, Holmes, Agyemang, Connolly.
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