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Match Preview: Portsmouth v Sunderland - can we extend our lead at the top on the south coast?

It’s time for our long, annual League One trip to the south coast to take on Portsmouth - here’s everything you need to know ahead of kick-off!

Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

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Saturday 2nd October 2021

(13th) Portsmouth v Sunderland (1st)

Sky Bet League One

Fratton Park

Kick-Off: 15:00

Tickets & Match Coverage

Tickets: Tickets available online via SAFC here.

TV/Stream: Full live match coverage available via to residents outside the UK and Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man only. Further information can be found here.

Radio: Full live match commentary available via BBC Radio Newcastle (not online)

Don’t forget to follow the blow-by-blow account of the game on the Roker Report Twitter feed (@RokerReport) and check out the player ratings after the full-time whistle at!

The build-up...

Fratton Park has not been the most successful grounds to visit over the years for the Lads, as 12 wins out of 56 games in all competitions clearly shows. Before our 2-0 victory there in March, we have to go back to Nicky Summerbee’s debut in November 1997 for our last win - which was an impressive 4-1 demolition where Summerbee finished the rout with the fourth.

This year however, we make the long arduous trip to the south coast with a bit of swagger about us. Two home wins over newly-promoted sides in the space of four days at the front end of the week, has put us in a commanding position in League One.

We find ourselves 3 points clear at the top ahead of Wigan in second, who have played the same number of games, and we have the same advantage over MK Dons in 3rd, who have played a game more.

It was two very different home wins this week, the first against Bolton was a win we had to grind out against a very well organised side, and the second was a victory against a Cheltenham side who turned up at the Stadium of Light and simply rolled over for us.

That wasn’t to say our football wasn’t impressive that night, because it was - but this week gives us a tougher test altogether, despite Portsmouth’s current form.

Our away form to date can’t make its mind up, a win, a draw and a loss from the three on the road so far.

We are where we are via our 100% home record and considering it is highly likely we will have one game at the Stadium of Light in the next five fixtures, it seems likely that October will provide a true test of our promotion, or title-winning, credentials, beginning today on the south coast.

Sunderland v Bolton Wanderers - Sky Bet League One
October will provide a tough test for Lee Johnson and the Lads
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Looking at Portsmouth at the moment, it seems like the perfect opportunity to improve that record we have at Fratton Park and make it the first back-to-back wins there since 1993 & 1994 (both under Mick Buxton - yes, it surprised me too).

The four years of the controversial managerial reign of Kenny Jackett came to an abrupt end soon after our convincing win at their place back in March, and a change of direction, much like in the case of ourselves, was called for.

Enter stage left - Danny Cowley... and his brother, obviously.

After promising signs initially, a promotion push looked on the cards after their introduction but they fell away to finish 8th.

This resulted in a bit of a clear-out during the summer, some they were happy with losing, and others maybe not so much. Players like Jack Whatmough and Craig MacGillivray left the club along with 10 others and an influx of experience was acquired to replace them.

Shaun Williams from Millwall at the back, Ryan Tunnicliffe and Joe Morrell in midfield from Luton were just 3 of the 8 players to sign permanently to compliment a selection of loan signings in an attempt to finally gain promotion at the fifth time of asking.

Things haven’t quite gone to plan however, after winning their first 3 they haven’t won since the 17th August and sit 13th in League One, 5 points from the play-offs and 4 points off the drop.

Their season is at a crossroads, and they will be eyeing a home fixture against the league leaders in front of a full-house as the perfect opportunity to nudge it in the right direction.

Charlton Athletic v Portsmouth - Sky Bet League One
Portsmouth Manager Darren Cowley (right) will hoping to turn things around at Fratton Park beginning with the clash with us this afternoon
Photo by Ben Peters/MB Media/Getty Images

League One Form...

The betting...

When compared to midweek when the bookies quite rightly had us heavy favourites to take Cheltenham apart, this weekend it’s very different.

Although we’re still favourites, we’re on offer at 7/5 while a Pompey home win is 19/10 and the draw is 23/10.

In terms of correct score, it appears there is a lot of fence-sitting with a 1-1 draw the shortest-priced scoreline at 24/5, and a 1-0 win to either side priced at 7/1, and 2-0 either way at 11/1.

A goalless draw is 8/1, but John Marquis is 5/1 to open the scoring for Portsmouth and Ross Stewart is predictably favourite to open the scoring for the Lads at 4/1.

Head to head...

(At Fratton Park in all competitions)

  • Sunderland wins: 12
  • Draws: 19
  • Portsmouth wins: 25
  • Sunderland goals: 78
  • Portsmouth goals: 101

Last time we met... at Fratton Park

Tuesday 9th March 2021

Sky Bet League One

Portsmouth 0-2 Sunderland

(Wyke 13’, Jones 58’)

Sunderland: Burge, Power, O’Nien, Sanderson, McFadzean, Jones (Maguire), Winchester, Scowen, McGeady (Gooch), O’Brien (Flanagan), Wyke Substitutes not used: Matthews, Vokins, Neil, Diamond

Portsmouth: MacGillivray, Bolton, Daniels, Naylor, Wahtmough, Raggett, Williams, Cannon (Harness), Marquis, Harrison (Curtis), White (Jacobs) Substitutes not used: Ward, Brown, Nicolaisen, Hiwula

Portsmouth v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Jordan Jones celebrates after scoring our second goal in the impressive win at Fratton Park back in March
Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Played for both...

Benjani Mwaruwari

It’s very easy to forget Benjani played for us - the forward had a successful stint at Portsmouth from 2006-2008 which resulted in a move to big-spending Manchester City under Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Sunderland loaned Benjani from City in 2010 for a pretty forgettable time on Wearside - starting only once in addition to seven substitute appearances whilst scoring zero goals.

Benjani in action for both clubs
Photo by John Walton - PA Images via Getty Images and Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

Jermain Defoe

Still staggers me that we swapped him for Jozy Altidore. Was only at Portsmouth for one season, in 2008/09 between stints at Spurs.

After signing for us, his record of 37 goals in 93 appearances, in those sides, is up there with some of the best scoring feats seen at Sunderland.

A bright light during a dark period, in an era where a lot of players didn’t care, he did - a lot.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images and Photo by Joe Pepler/Portsmouth FC via Getty Images


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