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Portsmouth v Derby preview: Tight contest expected between playoff hopefuls

With the World Cup set to commence on Sunday, the lower leagues will get a chance to be in the domestic spotlight and kicking off the domestic action this weekend is a tasty-looking clash between Portsmouth and Derby County at Fratton Park.

WhatPortsmouth v Derby
When20:00, Friday 18th November 2022
WhereFratton Park
How to watchSky Sports Main Event
OddsPortsmouth 11/8, Draw 12/5, Derby 19/10

It is a match between fifth and sixth in League One with both sides having genuine ambitions of promotion to the Championship this season. 

The hosts lie fifth having had a solid season under Danny Cowley and they are attempting to get back into the Championship for the first time since 2012 following a decade that has seen them scrap it out in the lower leagues following a period of financial turmoil. 

Derby thought they might have to endure the same but there is real optimism around Pride Park now, particularly since former Rotherham United manager Paul Warne took over earlier this season, and now they find themselves in sixth place in the division. 

Both sides are unbeaten in their last four league matches and Derby arrive into this game fresh from the back of a 5-0 walloping of non-league Torquay in their FA Cup first-round replay. 

Defences may be set to prevail 

Both sides are high in the league standings largely because of their solid defences - something which is unsurprising given the previous records of the two managers. 

Cowley made a name for himself as Lincoln City manager where he took them from the National League into League One during his three-year tenure and he did that by establishing a team that was hard to beat and could match anyone for physicality. 

So far this season, Pompey have earned 28 points from 16 games and have scored 26 goals, although they have slightly dried up in recent times following a poor run of form. 

They have managed to take three points in just one of their past eight games with three consecutive 1-1 draws hampering their progress slightly. 

They are a strong defensive unit though, particularly on their own turf, as the south coast club are unbeaten in eight matches at Fratton Park this season, conceding just eight goals in the process. 

Derby meanwhile are one of the strongest teams in the league in terms of their defensive record with only Bolton and Barnsley conceding fewer goals. 

Warne masterminded Rotherham to promotion out of League One on three separate occasions and he did that by organising a strong defence. 

Derby have lost only one of their last six games and have seen only five goals go past them in that run, so this match might be very tightly fought with under 2.5 goals available to be backed at 17/20

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Bishop shines in early Pompey career 

Last season, Portsmouth lacked an out-and-out goalscoring centre forward with wideman Marcus Harness their top scorer with 11 in all competitions. Cowley sought to improve that during the summer and brought in Colby Bishop from Accrington Stanley for an undisclosed fee. 

He has settled extremely quickly into life at Fratton Park, scoring 11 goals in his first 18 matches for the club across all competitions, including three in his last four. 

Bishop scored twice away at Ipswich and once in a defeat at Sheffield Wednesday so is clearly capable of making his mark against the bigger clubs in the division. 

With goals looking potentially hard to come by it is vital that both teams have a reliable source up front and Portsmouth certainly have that in Bishop - he can be backed to score anytime at 7/5

Collins hopes to add to Derby collection 

Summer signing James Collins is beginning to show what he can do at Pride Park and is becoming their main man to turn to up top. 

In the summer, with so much uncertainty around the place, Derby had to raid the free transfer market in order to put a squad together and Republic of Ireland international Collins was one of the players snapped up. 

He has scored three in his last four league appearances and is looking like a real asset for Derby after spending the last few years of his career playing in the Championship. Collins is 11/5 to score anytime.

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