When Sunderland needed a hero, a match-winner to ensure they took an advantage to Fratton Park for the second leg of the League One play-offs, it was Chris Maguire who stepped up.
Maguire came to Sunderland with a reputation for being player whose performances improve when the stakes get higher and his outstanding volley was proof of his big game mentality. The 30-year-old’s goal-scoring cameo which earned him Sky Sports’ man of the match honours keeps him top the Roker Report Power Rankings for a second straight week.
After 65 minutes Alim Ozturk looked set to take the King’s crown for his sterling defensive work. Our Turkish centre-half was then inexplicably sent off by Gary Woolmer for what was clearly a yellow card offence.
The 26-year-old had marshalled Oliver Hawkins excellently to that point, matching the massive striker’s physicality and timing his tackles on the forward excellently, on the few occasions Hawkins escaped his grasp.
Luke O’Nien completes the top three. Both full-backs impressed on Saturday night and the industrious converted-defender had a strong game on both sides of the ball.
1: Chris Maguire (SR) - Top for the second week running and a fifth time this season, Maguire’s ability to play at a high level when the pressure increases will be crucial again in the second leg.
2: Alim Ozturk (3) - His highest ever position - Ozturk’s emergence as a dependable centre-back may prove a key turning point in Sunderland’s attempts to escape England’s third tier.
3: Luke O’Nien (4) - Returns to the top three, a placement he’s barely left since becoming the team’s first-choice right-back. O’Nien will need to be at his alert and energetic best again if Sunderland are to advance on Thursday.
4: Jon McLaughlin (5) - When Sunderland looked like faltering and crumbling under the pressure of the occasion it was McLaughlin along with Lee Cattermole who truly settled Wearside nerves - he was decisive from set-pieces and in full command of his area throughout.
5: Lee Cattermole (7) - Back in the top five after a performance that illustrates his value especially in tough fixtures. No-one made more interceptions or got through more defensive work than the former captain.
6: Bryan Oviedo (13) - Returns to the top ten after really stepping up and impressing going forward especially in the second-half. Much like Cattermole his qualities will be crucial in what’s hopefully two final fixtures.
7: Charlie Wyke (6) - Drops a couple spots after another tough meeting with Portsmouth’s physical center-halves, he battled well and another robust performance is needed if Sunderland are to advance.
8: Lynden Gooch (20) - Learning that Lynden Gooch was taking Aiden McGeady’s starting spot sent shockwaves around Wearside, but we needn’t have worried Gooch produced his best performance in months - and that launches him back into the top ten.
9: Max Power (2) - One of two Sunderland players to really struggle on the night, Power is this week’s big faller after struggling to progress the ball all night.
10: Jimmy Dunne (14) - Dunne impressed in limited minutes, most notably getting the faintest of touches onto George Evans’ free-kick in what might have been a goal-saving intervention.
11: George Honeyman (15) - Drops out the top ten after an uneven showing. Honeyman was another Sunderland midfielder that looked nervous and uncomfortable on the big stage, especially in the first-half.
12: Lewis Morgan (8) - Morgan slips down the rankings after being the greatest disappointment on the night, just being wasteful in possession and lacking his usual swagger in one-on-one situations.
13: Tom Flanagan (19) - Rises back towards the top ten after battling well and making crucial interventions against Pompey. Suspect passing stops the ex-Burton defender rising higher.
14: Aiden McGeady (9) - Falls after losing his chance to play in the first leg at the last moment after pulling-up injured in the pre-match warm-up.
15: Dylan McGeouch (10) - Once again a victim of the sheer depth the Black Cats enjoy when most of the squad are fit. McGeouch didn’t make the 18-man squad even after McGeady was ruled out.
16: Kazaiah Sterling (11) - Another player unable to crack Sunderland’s bench. There was no room for Sterling, despite the striker being one of only a handful of Sunderland players that came away with any credit at Roots Hall.
17: Denver Hume (12) - Made the bench after McGeady’s last-minute injury, but the left-back didn’t receive playing time in the play-offs.
18: Grant Leadbitter (16) - Missed out on any playing time after failing to impress enough in the previous week to displace Power from the team.
19: Adam Matthews (17) - Like Leadbitter the Welsh international blew his opportunity to win over Jack Ross at Southend and had to settle for being an unused substitute in the big match.
20: Will Grigg (18) - Unlucky that the dynamic of the game changed when Ozturk was sent off, meaning he didn’t get his chance to help Sunderland find that killer second goal as a substitute.
21: Lee Connelly 22: 22: Benji Kimpioka 23: Reece James 24: Duncan Watmore 25: Robbin Ruiter 26: Bali Mumba 27: Jack Baldwin 28: Glenn Loovens 29: Jack Bainbridge 30: Donald Love 31: Jake Hackett 32: Brandon Taylor 33: Jordan Hunter 34: Daniel Neil 35: Max Stryjek