Preview: Portsmouth vs. Bristol Rovers – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday’s League One clash between Portsmouth and Bristol Rovers, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Portsmouth and Bristol Rovers will be looking to kick off the new League One season with a positive result when they go head-to-head at Fratton Park on Saturday.

The hosts will be targeting a promotion push, while the Gas will want to improve upon last season’s 17th-place finish.

Match preview

Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton pictured in May 2021© Reuters

Having spent 11 years in the bottom two divisions of the Football League, Portsmouth will be hoping this is the season that they can finally end their long wait for Championship football.

John Mousinho, who was appointed Pompey boss in January, was unable to guide his side into the playoffs despite losing just four of his 23 league games in charge.

Rather than defeats, it was a failure to convert draws into victories that saw Portsmouth finish in eighth place and seven points adrift of the playoffs with 19 of their 46 league matches ending all square – only Lincoln City drew more games in League One last term.

After falling short of the top six, Pompey have been busy strengthening their squad over the summer, recruiting as many as 12 players.

Their new signings will be looking to get off to a positive start, and Pompey will be hopeful of claiming all three points, having won their last three meetings with Bristol Rovers.

Bristol Rovers, meanwhile, are preparing for their second straight season in the third tier after staving off relegation last term.

After winning promotion from League Two in 2021-22, the Gas would have been content with a 17th-place finish, but they will now be setting their objectives a little higher.

Joey Barton‘s side will need to improve defensively are to operate in the top half of the table this term after shipping 73 league goals last season – only four teams conceded more in League One.

Bristol Rovers have seemingly moved to solve those issues by bolstering their backline with the additions of Connor Taylor, James Wilson and George Friend.

After failing to win any of their final four away games of the 2022-23 campaign, the Gas will be looking to end that winless run when they make the trip to Fratton Park on Saturday.

Portsmouth form (pre-season friendlies):

Bristol Rovers form (pre-season friendlies):

Team News

Several members of the Portsmouth squad are set to make their debuts, including Conor Shaughnessy and Regan Poole, who are set to line up in central defence.

Pompey captain Marlon Pack will feature in a midfield, and he is expected to be joined in the middle of the park by Tom Lowery and Joe Morrell.

After racking up 20 league goals last term, Colby Bishop will be looking to enjoy another productive campaign, and the former Accrington Stanley striker will be joined in a front three by summer signings Gavin Whyte and Anthony Scully.

As for the visitors, Wilson will make his debut in the centre of defence alongside James Connolly, while Luca Hoole and Lewis Gordon are set to operate as the two full-backs.

Summer signings Luke Thomas and Jevani Brown are also expected to make their first competitive appearances in a Bristol Rovers shirt.

Captain Sam Finley will feature in central midfield, and he is likely to be joined by Grant Ward, who is beginning his first full season as a Bristol Rovers player.

Portsmouth possible starting lineup:
Norris; Rafferty, Poole, Shaughnessy, Ogilvie; Lowery, Pack, Morrell; Whyte, Scully, Bishop

Bristol Rovers possible starting lineup:
Belshaw; Hoole, Wilson, Connolly, Gordon; Ward, Finley; Thomas, Sinclair, Collins; Brown

SM words green background

We say: Portsmouth 2-1 Bristol Rovers

Mousinho has only lost one of his 11 home league games as Pompey manager, and we think his side will utilise home advantage to begin the new campaign with a narrow victory.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting under 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 2.5:data

ID:520306:1false2false3false:QQ:: from db desktop :LenBod:collect9783:

Previews by email

Click here to get Sports Mole‘s daily email of previews and predictions for every major game!