Malc Dugdale says...
We finally ground one out! If adding in players like Batth means we can now grind out results like that, I’ll take it every few games. For once, we took a one-goal lead and took it home. A few more of them this season and we will very much benefit from the points it brings. Batth was very solid and totally what we needed today. Well played Danny.
Embo and Ross clicking. We should have had a goal when Dajaku forced errors from the Pompey backline and pushed it wide rather than squaring it, but when it dropped to Ross with Elliot at his side, he did the right thing. It’s great to see Ross get an assist and Embo to get a goal after so many efforts off the woodwork. Great for Elliot and for Ross and a crucial 3 points.
Flanagan was the most experienced player in the back 3/5, but by a country mile he made the most mistakes. He could have been sent off had a couple of overly passionate tackles not gone his way late on post his card. For me Tom simply has to be rotated out, not cos he isn’t good enough but because he’s dipping to a low we need to help him get out of. Get fit Wright, or Trai Hume, and let’s help Tom get sorted for the rest of this season. He can contribute, he just isn't right now, but he will help again before the end of the season.
Midfield mess - for the first 25 mins or so we didn’t turn up in the midfield. We won’t get away with that against better sides so we need to sort that out. Without Pritch to aim for we looked a bit aimless, but we worked out the issues and we got the win which was the main thing today. Well done lads, the squad is doing what it needs to but let’s learn from that, please!
Mark Wood says...
A good debut from Danny Batth. He seemed to win just about everything that came his way in the air, and also made several good interceptions. We needed them as Portsmouth pressured hard from the kick-off and again late in the game. If this is the start of a level of performance that he is able to put in for the rest of the season then he will make a difference to a back line, which has fallen under examination at times this season. Coincidence or not, Callum Doyle alongside him looked like he had a boost of confidence and put in his best performance for weeks.
After being on the ropes somewhat in the first half-hour - even though Hoffmann wasn’t really tested - we came more into the game in the second half and did something we haven’t done a lot of this season but is vital for any promotion-chasing side. We managed the game well to bring home a narrow win. Not by scraping it and riding our luck, but by controlling the match.
Flanno. I don’t know if it's a concentration issue with Tom Flannagan in recent games, but he had another lapse today in the first ten minutes which more lethal opponents would have exploited. You could almost see the logical thought process unravelling and then taking a rapid swerve off course. He has never ducked a shift for Sunderland. In many ways, he reminds me of Lee Burge, and plays many decent, some good games that bring home the points, but also capable of the odd bad decision that turns out to be costly. Got away with one today.
Slow start. We let Portsmouth get at us and have the upper hand from the kick-off, and then on for the first half hour. It was like watching an away match where we had our backs to the wall in that period. You can't do that and get away with it on a regular basis, but being fair, this season it has rarely happened, and if anything it has usually been Sunderland who have got on the front foot at the start.
Andrew Smithson says...
Holding our nerve. For the first 20 minutes or so it looked like another Lincoln - the place seemed edgy and Portsmouth were up for it. Our senior players helped take charge though, we did what we had to do, and whilst it wasn't pretty, we worked our socks off. We turned a potentially long afternoon into a winning one, all because the players trusted themselves and stayed calm. The visitors were limited to very little in the second half and despite losing the lead a couple of times recently we saw this one out fairly calmly. As the promotion race heats up in the coming months and it looks like things are going south this won't be the last time we need to see such nerve.
Pickpockets. The game was fraught at times and there wasn't much in the way of goalmouth action, but we did put a couple of quality moves together and they usually came after we’d pinched the ball high up the pitch. Our goal came from a steal and chasing players down stopped Portsmouth from ever really settling into a rhythm. It was great to see us flying into tackles in our third, but it was when we were able to whip the ball off the toes of their back line or muscle our way back into possession that Sunderland did the real damage.
Scrappy affair. This was hardly a classic and probably won’t last long in the memory, although that said I’d snap your hands off right now for another 15 wins just like it.
Sound off! The public address system at the Stadium of Light has needed upgrading for a while, and it seems as if the speakers above the Roker End have gone altogether now. The main focus for the ownership still needs to be on the pitch of course, but it would be a real backwards step if the ground was allowed to fall into wrack and ruin at the same time. It needs a few splashes of TLC, but everybody has a responsibility to keep the place special and as much as I want to see the club do what they can I’d also ask that the scruffy gets that spill food and drink or leave litter all over the place start showing it more respect too.