After a rousing chorus of ‘Wise Men Say’ accompanied by another fantastic flag display, Portsmouth started proceedings. A scrappy opening paved the way for Lewis Morgan to almost break the deadlock with an incredible scissor kick, but that effort was well saved by the Pompey keeper.
Minutes later and Sunderland took the lead as Tom Flanagan glanced an effort past the sprawling Pompey keeper after a great set-piece delivery from Max Power. A great start for the Lads!
Three yellow cards inside the opening fifteen minutes highlighted the importance of the game - as did the roar emanating from the Roker End when news filtered through that Blackpool had taken the lead at Barnsley.
Pompey equalized when a deep cross found Pitman who hooked a ball back into the area where a Pompey header hit the bar only to find Jamal Lowe, who poked home from close range. The ball to Pitman looked, at first glance, as though it may have crept out over the line, but the goal was given.
As the goal went in, Portsmouth fans threw a flare onto the Sunderland fans below - the referee pausing the game in order to allow authorities to intervene and address the vile behaviour.
Pompey grew into the game, controlling the temp and winning the lion’s share of second balls. They thought they had a second from a corner; however, Matt Clarke was adjudged to have fouled Jon McLaughlin in the build up. A let off for Sunderland.
Barnsley then equalized in their game against Blackpool with Sunderland beginning to show better quality on the ball as the half drew to a close. Charlie Wyke forcing a good save from the Pompey keeper after a great ball in from Lewis Morgan.
Half Time: Sunderland 1-1 Portsmouth
Lewis Morgan picked up where he left off at the end of the second half, and forced the Pompey keeper into another smart save with a low, stinging drive in the opening moments.
The game then became a rather scrappy affair, and Jack Ross moved to add quality in the Sunderland midfield with Chris Maguire replacing George Honeyman.
That scrappy tension did not ease as both sides went to and fro without any real impetus. Aiden McGeady began to drift in from his wing looking to find space allowing Maguire space to move into - something he took advantage off when his stringing drive was saved comfortably by the Pompey keeper.
Will Grigg replaced Lewis Morgan soon after as Ross looked to stretch the Portsmouth back line, Maguire and McGeady playing as wide men with license to roam.
Another incredible saved denied Max Power after brilliant play from Chris Maguire. Sunderland had began to keep the ball well and created space with their movement, Power benefitted from a great pass by Maguire and his searching shot was tipped over the bar brilliantly. Sunderland beginning to control the affair.
Then, Sunderland hit the post! A flying will Grigg attempt rebounded clear and kept Sunderland at bay, but Pompey were nervous. Adam Matthews replaced a limping Luke O’Nien for the final three minutes of the game.
Sunderland, however, could not find that winning goal despite dominating vast swathes of the second half. Barnsley’s victory meant little changed in the table - play-offs are looming large.
Full Time: Sunderland 1-1 Portsmouth
Jon McLaughlin, 6/10: Could maybe have done a little better with the Pompey goal if we were being mega critical. Comfortable with everything else.
Luke O’Nien, 6/10: Solid if unspectacular.
Alim Ozturk, 8/10: Thought he was class. Handled both strikers comfortably and made a couple of great tackles.
Tom Flanagan, 7/10: Comfortable throughout, really, but not as imposing as Ozturk.
Bryan Oviedo, 6/10: Got forward a lot, but lacked quality in the final third. Also gave the ball away in a couple of dangerous positions.
Lee Cattermole, 9/10: Thought Catts was superb today. Broke up the play well, moved the ball nicely - he allowed others to take the game to Pompey in the second half.
Max Power, 6/10: Did supply the cross for the opening goal, but was quiet in spells. Couple of canny shots, but struggled to really impose himself on the game.
George Honeyman, 5/10: Runs well and his desire is clear for all to see. Clearly lacked the bit of quality we needed in that ten position today, though.
Aiden McGeady, 7/10: Tricky and a real nuisance at times. Playing with an injury and still looking a cut above. Couple of great balls into the box today - unlucky.
Lewis Morgan, 7/10: Much like McGeady, he was a handful but just couldn’t find that moment of true quality.
Charlie Wyke, 6/10: Hassled well, but not as effective as in recent weeks.
(SUB) Chris Maguire, 7/10: Drove the Lads forward and made things happen - a welcome return.
(SUB) Will Grigg, 5/10: Unlucky to hit the post, but those are the moments we expected our big signing to produce in.
(SUB) Adam Matthews, N/A: Didn’t do much in his three minute cameo.
Motm: Lee Cattermole