Jack Ross on Portsmouth frustration and three positives Sunderland can take

Jack Ross says he was proud of his Sunderland team despite their 3-1 defeat at Portsmouth.

Sunday, 23rd December 2018, 12:24 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 3:57 pm
Duncan Watmore made his first league start of the season against Portsmouth

A red card early in the second half for Glenn Loovens turned a tight contest on its head.

Fratton Park jubilantly greeted a win that put Kenny Jackett's side eight points clear of the Black Cats in the table.

Duncan Watmore made his first league start of the season against Portsmouth

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Sunderland still have two games in hand and Ross says he believes his players will bounce back to what was only their second defeat of the season.

"You don’t need any extra motivation but you remember how it feels to lose games," Ross said.

"You remember how it feels to see other teams celebrate victories.

"There are lot of game still to be played and a lot of points to be won and lost.

"There are a lot of players in our dressing room and I know that they will take the sting from this game and it will help drive them forward," he added.

"All that matters is the table at the end of the season.

"Portsmouth are a good side who are deservedly leading the table but I was proud of my team today, particularly that first 50 minutes.

"The response to the players was excellent at the end of the game. They’re not daft, they recognise that there is a group whose passion reflects the way they feel about the club.

"Hopefully we can replicate that performance on Boxing Day."

A promising first half offered some definite positives for Sunderland.

Duncan Watmore showed real tenacity and threat through the middle and it was a big blow for the Black Cats that he had to be taken off after Loovens saw red.

Ross says he will be a big player in the second half of the campaign.

"We had a gameplan and he was part of that and he fulfilled his role in that very well," Ross said.

"He would have played longer but he was going to have to come off at some point in the game. That’s why we made the decision to take him off.

"But it was another big milestone for him psychologically to start in a big game and do well. It really means he’s back which is brilliant for him.

"There were spells in the game where he showed exactly what he will bring to us in the second half of the season."

The Black Cats boss was also keen to praise Luke O'Nien after the midfielder stepped in to impress at right back.

Adam Matthews was a late withdrawal from the squad with a calf problem but O'Nien did well and even got on the scoresheet in the second half.

"He is a young player who has moved to a really big club and adjusted really well," Ross said.

"He is a brilliant boy because of his attitude and willingness to do things.

"He was good at full-back. It won’t be his position but he was good at it and that’s great for me knowing he can step in and play there."