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Opposition Lowdown: John Mousinho’s Portsmouth

Reading play the second of four consecutive home games this Saturday, taking on top-of-the-table Portsmouth at the Select Car Leasing Stadium. Join us as we take a closer look at the opposition.

Derby County v Portsmouth - Sky Bet League One - Pride Park Photo by Ian Hodgson/PA Images via Getty Images


Portsmouth finished last season in eighth place in League One, seven points outside of the playoffs.

They have had a strong start to this season, currently sitting top of the league and unbeaten following nine wins and five draws. Their six-game winning streak came to an end on Tuesday after a 0-0 draw with Cambridge United, however they are currently on a 25-game unbeaten run in the league.

The two sides last faced each other in 2015 when Reading beat Portsmouth 1-2 at Fratton Park in a second-round League Cup tie, with Nick Blackman and Garath McCleary scoring the goals.

The last time the two sides faced off in the league was during the 2011/12 season. First, Portsmouth beat Reading 1-0 at Fratton Park, with former Royal Dave Kitson scoring the winner. Reading returned the favour with a 1-0 home win at the Madejski Stadium, with current academy manager Noel Hunt scoring the goal.

The boss

John Mousinho: Mousinho was appointed Portsmouth manager in January this year, taking over from Danny Cowley, who was sacked following nine games without a win. The 37-year-old had an 18-year career as a player, lining up in defence and midfield, and was still playing up until his appointment at Pompey.

He started his youth career at Chesham United before moving to the US to study, where he also played for college side Notre Dame Fighting Irish. He signed for Brentford after completing his studies and made 71 appearances for The Bees before then joining Wycombe Wanderers.

Moves to Stevenage and Preston North End followed before he signed for Burton Albion in 2014. Mousinho stayed at Burton for three seasons and was appointed club captain during his time at the club. He signed for Oxford United in 2017, where he played 150 games, whilse also being named club captain. He took on a player-coach role in 2021 and was given his first shot at management with Portsmouth when they bought him in as head coach in January.

Mousinho has been a success so far, guiding Pompey to an eighth-placed finish in his first season and leading the club to an unbeaten start to the current campaign, being named manager of the month in September. He is known for his strong leadership and motivational skills.


It was a busy summer at Fratton Park where 14 players joined the club, with only six players leaving.

Defenders Clark Robertson and Kieron Freeman, midfielders Louis Thompson and Jay Mingi and wingers Michael Jacobs and Reeco Hackett were the six shown the door.

11 players joined on permanent deals with goalkeeper Will Norris, defenders Regan Poole, Conor Shaughnessy and Jack Sparkes and winger Gavin Whyte all joining on free transfers. Winger Anthony Scully (Wigan Athletic) and forwards Christian Saydee (Bournemouth) and Kusini Yengi (Western Sydney) all signed for undisclosed fees. Three players also came in on loan with midfielders Alex Robertson and Tino Anjorin joining from Manchester City and Chelsea and forward Abu Kamara joining from Norwich City.

Winger Anthony Scully will miss out on Saturday’s game with a knee injury. Defender Connor Ogilvie and Marlon Pack are both expected to miss out with an ankle injuries.

Expected lineup

Norris, Swanson, Poole, Shaughnessy, Sparkes, Morrell, Robertson, Lane, Whyte, Saydee, Bishop

Key player

Colby Bishop: Forward Bishop signed for Pompey in July 2022, joining from Accrington Stanley for an undisclosed fee.

He started his youth career at Notts County, where he signed his first professional contract in 2014. Bishop made four first-team appearances for County before joining non-league Worcester City on a free transfer.

Moves to Boston United and Leamington followed, before he made his way back into the Football League with Accrington Stanley in 2019. He spent three years at Stanley, playing 123 times and scoring 38 goals for the club.

Bishop moved to Portsmouth last summer and has been a hit down on the south coast, finishing as the club’s top scorer after netting 24 goals and being named their player of the season. The 26-year-old plays as a striker, is strong in the air and is an effective finisher, who has eight goals to his name so far this season.

One to watch

Jack Sparkes: Left-back Sparkes joined Portsmouth this summer, signing from League One rivals Exeter City.

The 23-year-old came through the Exeter youth system and made his debut for the club in 2017 at the age of 16. He then had loan spells at Chippenham Town and Salisbury before breaking into the first team at Exeter in the 2019/20 season. He had another loan spell, this time at fellow Devon side Torquay United following an injury, before then returning to Exeter and becoming a first-team regular.

Sparkes made 151 appearances for the Grecians in total before his move to Pompey this summer. Sparkes has played a part in 18 games so far this season and has six assists to his name.

He plays predominantly as a left-back but can also play on the wing, is an effective crosser of the ball and is a strong set-piece taker, who plays dangerous balls into the box.