League One Tuesday previews: can Portsmouth record convincing win?

League One action continues on Tuesday night. Portsmouth expect to climb the table when they host a woe-ridden Southend side, a possession-based Rochdale outfit welcome promotion contenders Ipswich to the Crown Oil Arena (Spotland) while low-scoring Shrewsbury face high-scoring Posh.

Portsmouth v Southend

There is huge pressure on Portsmouth to win this match and close the ()-point gap on the top six. They have played reasonably well in their last two games but late capitulations, which led to 2-2 and 1-1 draws with Bristol Rovers and Oxford respectively, mean the pressure remains firmly on manager Kenny Jackett, who has been criticized for overly conservative game management.

Southend United, by contrast, almost need a touch of conservatism, because their defensive record – 44 conceded in 16 games – is horrendous. The Shrimpers actually have attacking options with Simon Cox, Stephen Humphrys and Tom Hopper all in their ranks, along with some decent youngsters in reserve. Their rear-guard, though, looks one of the worst in third-tier history.

The pressure for Portsmouth therefore, is not just on them winning this match, but also on them winning it with a certain level of dominance that will be strong enough to convince fans that they can go on a run.

To do that, Jackett may be tempted to freshen up the midfield and replace Ben Close with somebody like Andy Cannon, who can offer more creativity going forward, which they will likely need against deep-block opposition.

Rochdale v Ipswich

In a division which yields question marks over all of the top teams, Ipswich Town look the most complete outfit – despite not yet getting out of second gear.

The Tractor Boys possess a compelling front two of Kayden Jackson, who loves to run in behind with searing pace and James Norwood, a hardworking partner who can score from many different distances and angles.

Paul Lambert’s side must now defeat a Rochdale outfit who have been rather inconsistent this term. Brian Barry-Murphy is trying to get the Dale playing out from the back, a principle they had gone away from towards the tail-end of Keith Hill’s regime.

They have had reasonable success with that in some respects but, as we saw in the 2-1 home loss to Bristol Rovers last time out, they can be caught out in being so open.

Clearly, academy graduate Luke Matheson, a real talent and Rhys Norrington-Davies, who has an excellent engine, are both full-backs who love to attack, so this is one for btts predictions.

When they do go forward, though, Dale need to make sure that either Aaron Morley or Jordan Williams drops either side of centre-backs Eoghan O’Connell and Paul McShane to maintain the defensive balance.

Otherwise, they could be caught out by a clinical Ipswich side.

Shrewsbury v Peterborough

Shrewsbury Town lost 1-0 at Wycombe last time out, a result which led natives to question manager Sam Ricketts and his allegiance to the 3-5-2 formation. In fairness to Ricketts, his side created big chances in the first half of that match and, with slightly different outcomes in front of goal, we could be lauding Salop for toppling a high-flying Wycombe side.

If Shrewsbury are a defensive outfit, then Peterborough United are much the opposite. The Posh have scored 39 goals in 16 games this season, with their magic front three of Mohamed Eisa, Ivan Toney and Marcus Maddison accounting for 33 of those goals.

It will be interesting to see, though, just how Darren Ferguson’s side open up the Shrews, who will deny space in central areas. With the diamond system that Ferguson favours, they will need to find alternative routes to goal when the attacking trio are denied the space they require.