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MATCH PREVIEW: Portsmouth v Sunderland

The biggest game of Phil Parkinson’s reign so far is upon us as we travel to ‘Fortress Fratton’ (yes, apparently) to face an in-form Portsmouth side who will fancy their chances just as much as we do.

Portsmouth v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Play-off - Semi Final - Second Leg - Fratton Park Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images

Sunderland have managed to pick up five wins in six games, and are nine games unbeaten with a scrappy midweek win over Micky Mellon’s Tranmere Rovers, but a trip to the South Coast promises a far tougher test for Parkinson’s side.

A win for Sunderland would really show that the Black Cats mean business in this promotion race, but as we’ve seen many times before, Portsmouth are certainly no pushovers.

Deadline day signing Antoine Semenyo is available to play, but will likely start from the bench.

Tranmere Rovers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images

Parky Says…

On the win over Tranmere:

It was difficult at times in the first half, we couldn’t get out, but I thought we were excellent in the second half, we mixed the game up better and Charlie [Wyke] went down the sides.

We had more play in their half and it was a really valuable win for us. In terms of mentality, strength of character, all the things we asked of the lads, they delivered.

It’s alright saying it, but when you come to these places you have to do it, and we did it tonight. I was on the verge of making a change before the goal, but when the goal came I felt we were on top.

We just kept it the same. It’s about game management. Away from home, it’s always about mentality and managing the game. Doing the right things, playing the ball at the right time, that’s key in these conditions. I thought we showed a lot of nous.

Tranmere Rovers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images

Team News

Phil Parkinson will have a selection dilemma going into this afternoon’s match, with the likes of Alim Ozturk and Josh Scowen pushing for places in the starting eleven.

Parky sprung a surprise by dropping defender Ozturk during the week, preferring to blood in new boy Bailey Wright at the heart of the defence.

In midfield George Dobson and Max Power have been almost irreplaceable recently, but Dobson in particular looked in need of a rest during the midweek win over Tranmere Rovers, so former QPR midfielder Scowen will be hoping for a full debut.

Sunderland Unveil New Signing Josh Scowen Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

View From The Opposition

Sunderland are not the only team in-form at the moment, with Pompey winning their last seven games in all competitions.

Portsmouth are also the only side yet to lose a home game in League One, winning eight of their 13 games at Fratton Park this season.

Portsmouth have a fully fit squad to choose from after John Marquis avoided suspension by staying clear of a fifth booking of the season at Lincoln City.

Portsmouth v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Play-Off: Second Leg Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Last Time We Met At Fratton Park

What. A. Night.

Sunderland progressed to the final of the League One play-off final after a sterling performance from the Lads ended Portsmouth’s season in the most satisfying of fashions.

A 1-0 win in the first leg had given Sunderland the advantage, but all the talk was of the cauldron of hate the Wearsiders would receive at Fortress Fratton, as they relived the ‘Milan atmosphere’ (yeah, they didn’t win that one either).

But, it only got as bad as a goblin kicking Luke O’Nien, Mick Hucknall wanting to fight Lee Cattermole and Brett Pitman shouting at a 12-year-old ball boy. Fortress Fratton indeed.

Fratton was flattened as a resolute Sunderland back four ensured Portsmouth didn’t even get close. It may have been as good as it got last season, but boy it was fun.

Portsmouth v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Play-off - Semi Final - Second Leg - Fratton Park Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images

Match Stats

Venue: Fratton Park, Portsmouth
Kick-off: 3pm
Referee: Chris Sarginson
Current position: 7th
Last season position: 4th (League One, lost in play-offs)

Last 5 results:

SAFC

(L1) Tranmere Rovers (A) 1-0
(L1) Doncaster Rovers (H) 0-0
(L1) MK Dons (A) 1-0
(L1) Wycombe Wanderers (H) 4-0
(L1) Lincoln City (H) 3-1

PFC

(L1) Lincoln City (A) 2-0
(FAC) Barnsley (H) 4-2
(LT) Scunthorpe United (H) 2-1
(L1) Bolton Wanderers (A) 1-0
(LT) Walsall (A) 2-1

The Lads at Portsmouth

16 May 2019 (L1) Portsmouth 0-0 Sunderland
22 Dec 2018 (L1) Portsmouth 3-1 Sunderland (O’Nien)
23 Jan 2010 (FAC) Portsmouth 2-1 Sunderland (Bent)
18 May 2009 (PL) Portsmouth 3-1 Sunderland (Jones)
23 Feb 2008 (PL) Portsmouth 1-0 Sunderland

Top goalscorers (in all competitions)

13 - Ronan Curtis
9 - John Marquis
6 - Ben Close
6 - Ellis Harrison
5 - Gareth Evans