Chris Maguire’s epic volley was the difference between Sunderland and Pompey at the Stadium of Light this past weekend, and what a strike to decide the game. The technique required to assess the looping ball’s flight, rearrange his feet, ignore the onrushing defender’s presence, and execute a magnificent volley that arrowed into the far corner of the goal was nothing short of superb.
Maguire’s introduction had, in truth, spurred Sunderland forward in a game that they were controlling despite being unable to take the lead. George Honeyman recycled play effectively (he supplied a great ball for Oviedo’s cross that led to Maguire’s finish) and harried diligently, but lacked the ability to drive forward with the ball and create space for those around him.
Maguire’s introduction flipped the tie on its head, however. After scoring that wonderful volley, he also crashed a great drive off the post and generally provided a buzz on the pitch that Pompey simply couldn’t contain. It’s fair to say that had Sunderland avoided Alim Ozturk’s unfair dismissal, Maguire could well have inspired another goal or more.
Defensively, Sunderland coped well with Portsmouth’s attack - Alim Ozturk was really impressive throughout - hopefully his red is rescinded this week. Furthermore, Lee Cattermole’s shielding of the back four was also superb.
Lynden Gooch also deserves a pat on the back for a spirited display. He battled all over the pitch and provided several moments of quality with brilliant delivery into the box. When Pompey doubled up to prevent him using his pace, instead of attempting to dribble his way through several players, Gooch looked for a simple pass and found space elsewhere.
But, in the wake of a positive performance, the big question that has now presented itself is whether that performance was enough to suggest that Ross’ men have turned a corner and can make their move for League One’s final automatic promotion place.
As such, we’d love to know your thoughts on the matter.
Do you think Sunderland are now on course to find a path to promotion? Did Saturday evening’s victory offer enough evidence to suggest this team can progress to the play-off finals come the month’s end? Or, are you still concerned with the team’s ability to secure progression to another Wembley final?
Either way, get in touch and let us know your thoughts! Comment below, via social media, or email us at: RokerReport@Yahoo.co.uk!