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League One | Gameweek 21
Dec 11, 2023 at 8pm UK
Fratton Park
Bolton logo
2 - 0
Shaughnessy (45'), Yengi (88')
Robertson (10'), Sparkes (35'), Rafferty (85')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Thomason (14'), Sheehan (74'), Mendes Gomes (90+2'), Jones (90+5')

Preview: Portsmouth vs. Bolton Wanderers - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Monday's League One clash between Portsmouth and Bolton Wanderers, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Fans will flock to Fratton Park en masse for Monday's mouthwatering League One top-of-the-table clash, as first-placed Portsmouth welcome second-placed Bolton Wanderers to the South Coast.

John Mousinho's men hold a three-point advantage over the Trotters in the race for the third-tier crown, although Monday's visitors have a better goal difference and - perhaps crucially - a game in hand.

Match preview

Bolton Wanderers' manager Ian Evatt on May 13, 2023© Reuters

The disappointment of being knocked out of the FA Cup by Chesterfield has mostly subsided for Portsmouth, who hit a mini-plateau in the wake of that elimination but have reverted to type by clinching back-to-back wins in their last two League One affairs.

Taking to the road twice in quick succession, Mousinho's men were 2-0 victors at Burton Albion on November 28 before going one better on Northampton Town's territory, storming to a 3-0 success last weekend owing to Sean Raggett's header and two Paddy Lane efforts.

Prior to the commencement of this weekend's action, only Reading and Derby County had also taken six points from their last six third-tier matches, but Portsmouth's overall total of 42 sees Mousinho's men sitting pretty at the top of the pile after 19 matches.

Only Bolton are capable of catching Pompey in the current round of fixtures, and the hosts have another incentive to increase their advantage at the summit on Monday evening, having failed to put on much of a show for the home crowd in recent weeks.

Indeed, Portsmouth have gone winless in their last two League One contests at Fratton Park - drawing 2-2 with Charlton Athletic and suffering a horrendous 4-0 humbling versus Blackpool in November - but not since January 2022 have the hosts lost back-to-back third-tier matches on their own soil.

Bolton Wanderers' Dion Charles celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on May 13, 2023© Reuters

Bolton also have a mistake of their own to rectify on Monday, albeit only a very minor one as their eight-game winless run came to an end in a goalless draw versus Oxford United - a fellow automatic promotion chaser - in their most recent League One contest last month.

Since the opening of advent calendars up and down the country, Bolton have only tested their mettle in cup competitions, although both contests were worthwhile experiences for the Trotters, who ensured progression in both the FA Cup and EFL Trophy.

After pummelling Harrogate Tow 5-1 in the FA Cup second round, setting up a third-round date away to Premier League new boys Luton Town, Bolton's EFL Trophy defence continued with a 2-0 beating of Port Vale on Tuesday, as Dion Charles and Carlos Mendes Gomes made the net bulge.

That routine success marked a 10th win from 11 games for a Bolton side walking in a winter wonderland, and victory at Fratton Park on Monday would send the Trotters above Portsmouth to the summit of the standings, albeit only courtesy of their superior goal difference.

From their 11 unbeaten matches, a defensively-sound Bolton have only let in a mere four goals - keeping clean sheets in each of their last five games in League One - but Portsmouth ran out 3-1 winners in February's Fratton Park fixture and have all the motivation they need to make lightning strike twice against their closest challengers.

Portsmouth League One form:

Portsmouth form (all competitions):

Bolton Wanderers League One form:

Bolton Wanderers form (all competitions):

Team News

 Bolton Wanderers' Dion Charles celebrates scoring their second goal on April 2, 2023© Reuters

As well as 18-year-old defender Josh Dockerill - who is on the long road to recovery from a cruciate ligament injury - Portsmouth will be unable to call upon the services of 11-goal top scorer Colby Bishop for the top-of-the-table showdown due to an ankle injury.

Mousinho does not expect Bishop to be out for any longer than a month, but Kusini Yengi should shoulder the attacking burden for the visit of Bolton, where all of Regan Poole (ACL), Anthony Scully (knee), Connor Ogilvie (ankle) and Chelsea loanee Tino Anjorin (hamstring) will be missing too.

On a brighter note, Welsh midfielder Joe Morrell has served his suspension and is at Mousinho's disposal once more; the 26-year-old will likely link arms with Marlon Pack in the engine room.

Meanwhile, Bolton have George Johnston (knee) out for the season, and the Trotters have also lost Dan Nlundulu to the problem that he picked up in the dying embers of his side's EFL Trophy beating of Port Vale.

The visitors are in good shape otherwise, though, and Nlundulu's injury guarantees a two-pronged attack of Charles and Victor Adeboyejo, who lead the way in the Pompey goalscoring charts with 17 between them.

Portsmouth possible starting lineup:
Norris; Rafferty, Shaughnessy, Raggett, Sparkes; Morrell, Pack; Kamara, Saydee, Lane; Yengi

Bolton Wanderers possible starting lineup:
Coleman; Iredale, Forrester, Toal; Morley; Dacres-Cogley, Dempsey, Maghoma, Ashworth; Adeboyejo, Charles

SM words green background

We say: Portsmouth 0-1 Bolton Wanderers

Losing their leading marksman before the visit of a Bolton side who have been near-unbreakable in recent games was not on Portsmouth's bingo card, although their extended recuperation period should at least play its part for the hosts.

However, given Pompey's recent shortcomings at Fratton Park, Evatt's side have every right to be confident of keeping their hosts at bay, and the effective Adeboyejo-Charles pairing need just one gilt-edged chance to put another twist in the title tale.

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

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19Shrewsbury TownShrewsbury33105182344-2135
20Charlton AthleticCharlton33712144752-533
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22Port Vale3187163250-1831
23Fleetwood TownFleetwood3368193355-2226
24Carlisle UnitedCarlisle3248202655-2920

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