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Clotet's Blues can grind out EFL cup victory

EFL Cup first round
Sky Sports Football, 7.45pm Tuesday


Portsmouth and Birmingham kick off the 2018-19 EFL Cup, a week before the rest of the first-round ties, and the pair had mixed fortunes in their opening league games of the campaign on Saturday.

Pompey, who lost in the Sky Bet League One playoffs last season, were frustrated by their 1-0 defeat at Shrewsbury. A glorious strike from Ryan Giles gave the Shrews the points despite Portsmouth having almost two-thirds of possession and winning the shot count 15-3.

Birmingham ended up on the right side of a similar smash-and-grab raid in Pep Clotet's first Championship game in charge of the Blues.

They had just 24 per cent of the ball and one attempt on goal at Brentford but Kristian Pedersen's early header proved to be the only goal of the game as the Bees were denied by the woodwork three times.

Clotet admitted that the win was more down to organisation and effort than quality and there may be more of the same from his side at Fratton Park.

Sunderland did a great job of stifling Pompey in the playoff semi-finals last season, grinding out a 1-0 aggregate win over two legs after Portsmouth's last eight regular-season games had all featured goals at both ends.

Going up is the priority for Pompey, who finished just three points off automatic promotion in a competitive League One heat last term.

Their workload was increased by victory in the EFL Trophy and a run to the FA Cup fourth round but they lost 2-1 at home to AFC Wimbledon at this stage of the EFL Cup and a low-scoring away win appeals at the prices.

Recommendation
Birmingham to win 1-0

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