Dean Whitestone’s whistle signalled the start of the match and it was clear to see that Sunderland had come out with real a purpose in the opening exchanges - perhaps spurred on by the number of local lads in the side. The Lads were comfortable in possession, their passing and movement a joy to behold at times.
Lewis Morgan found space time and time again, and he hit the target with his third attempt on goal after good work from McGeady allowed the Celtic loanee to lash a shot straight down the Pompey keeper’s throat. The opening thirty minutes had been in Sunderland’s favour, but they needed to find that final piece of quality to break the deadlock.
They almost did in the thirty-third minute as a McGeady cross was headed to Lewis Morgan whose flying volley forced a good save from MacGillivray.
Then, in the thirty-seventh minute, Sunderland were rewarded for their play with a goal.
Aiden McGeady had been menacing throughout, and a mazy run past two stranded Pompey defenders in the thirty-seventh minute drew a foul. The Irish winger then stepped up and aided by a small deflection sent the ball beyond the flailing Pompey keeper and into the back of the net. GET IN!
Sunderland kicked off the second half, no changes made for either side at the interval.
Omar Bogle almost equalised from Pompey’s first corner of the game, but the on-loan forward fouled Luke O’Nien in the build-up to the chance. Pompey were certainly improved after the break, and had started asking questions of the Lads.
Brett Pitman hit the post for Pompey on the hour mark, Sunderland struggling to control the game as they had done in the opening half. Minutes later and Sunderland were nervous again as the Pompey right back spooned over from an acute angle before Jamal Lowe forced a poor shot wide.
Lynden Gooch was introduced in the 72nd minute in place of Lewis Morgan who had a brilliant opening 45 minutes - Ross in need of fresh legs. Shortly after, Will Grigg was removed in favour of Max Power - Gooch pushing up into the striking role.
Pompey then equalized in the final ten minutes of the game. A lofted ball into the area found Pompey right back Nathan Thompson whose header thundered past Jon McLaughlin.
Denver Hume replaced the injured Reece James, four minutes added at the end of the game. Hume was effective when coming on and he almost supplied a winner in the final moments of the game, his brilliant whipped delivery scrambled behind by the Pompey defence.
Thirty minutes of extra time followed, both teams allowed a fourth substitute.
Charlie Wyke was introduced in the fourth minute of added time for Grant Leadbitter, Max Power dropping into central midfield.
The game was understandably a cagey affair, but Sunderland did grow into proceedings, controlling the ball well at times in the opening fifteen.
The final half of extra time was just as tense as the first. However, Pompey found a way past Jon McLaughlin as Jamal Lowe’s delicate lob sealed the deal.
Disappointment reigned supreme, Sunderland’s fans had cast themselves in glory, the team not so much.... well, until Aiden McGeady popped up in the final moments of the game to equalize for Sunderland! Pandemonium in the Sunderland end, limbs flying, Wembley shaking!
Penalties to decide the game. Portsmouth won the initial toss, the penalties to be taken at their end of the stadium.
McGeady bagged the first penalty clipping his shot past the keeper’s right. Gareth Evans squeezed his under McLaughlin. Lee Cattermole’s penalty was then brilliantly saved before Brett Pitman lashed his shot into the right corner. Lynden Gooch stepped up next, ramming his shot into the top bin, Lee Brown then hammered a shot down the middle for Pompey. Max Power then scored, Jamal Lowe replied by flashing his shot into the top corner. Luke O’Nien dispatched his penalty with aplomb meaning a Ollie Hawkins goal would seal the win...
His confident strike confirmed Pompey’s win. More Wembley heartache for Sunderland.
Jon McLaughlin, 7/10: Made two great saves to keep the Lads in the game. Unlucky in the penalty shootout.
Luke O’Nien, 5/10: Targeted by Pompey and struggled at times in defence.
Tom Flanagan, 6/10: Put it all on the line for the Lads, nervy as midfiled struggled to control the game in the second half.
Jack Baldwin, 6/10: Similar to Flanagan. Struggled in the second half.
Reece James, 5/10: Very one dimensional going forward, struggled with Lowe’s pace at times, too, before coming off.
Lee Cattermole, 7/10: Incredible challenge in the second half to stop Pompey countering, and generally played well. Unlucky with the penalty. Gutsy performance.
Grant Leadbitter, 6/10: Flying block in injury-time to deny Pompey a late winner. Great first half, but faded in the second.
Lewis Morgan, 7/10: Really good first half, removed for Gooch relatively early in the second.
Aiden McGeady, 9/10: Three goals in a final is really impressive. Struggled to affect the game in the second half, but what a clutch player.
George Honeyman, 6/10: Great first half, but looked tired as the game wore on.
Will Grigg, 5/10: Nothing of note.
(SUB) Lynden Gooch, 6/10: Energy and tenacity when introduced, too slow to release the ball, though.
(SUB) Max Power, 6/10: Supplied the delivery for the equalizer, but struggled to impose himself on the game.
(SUB) Denver Hume, 5/10: A fair few heavy touches, but a couple of good deliveries.
(SUB) Charlie Wyke, 6/10: Did very well for the equalizer in injury time, a handful when he came on.
MOTM: Aiden McGeady