Chris Maguire opens up on Portsmouth win, Sunderland goal target and 'brilliant' supporters

After the game Kenny Jackett’s frustration with his side was clear.

Monday, 19th August 2019, 7:00 am
Chris Maguire is enjoying playing with Sunderland summer signing Marc McNulty

Above all else, he felt that poor defending from a set piece not only squandered his side’s early advantage, but ‘brought the crowd into play.’

The atmosphere was already excellent, particularly as Grant Leadbitter thundered into a couple of firm challenges, and Jordan Willis’ fine header lifted the noise even further.

From there on in it was a classic Stadium of Light atmosphere as the home side significantly lifted their performance levels, and saw out a late spell of pressure to secure three vital points.

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Chris Maguire scored the winning goal, finding a way to make a definitive contribution as he so often does in these games.

Few players enjoy the platform Sunderland offers like he does and afterwards, he was clear that it something his side have to harness throughout the campaign. Beating a promotion contender early in the season is a fine way to start.

“We want to try and turn this into a place where teams come and are scared to play here,” he said.

“The fans get on our side and you can hear the noise and atmosphere, it’s brilliant. They love people working and putting their bodies on the line like Grant and others did. We know that when they see that commitment they’ll get right behind us and it’s up to us to go and get the wins.

“It’s a vital win, first one of the season and at home. It’s important now we go on a run and climb up the league and try and leave the draws behind.

“You want to win every football match but sometimes it doesn’t happen. A point is better than a defeat and at least you can add to the total, but sometimes you just have to accept you have can an off day.

“We’re unbeaten, we’re three games into the season and we know what we have to do. Coming off the back of last season, that’s probably what killed us, the draws, so you understand the fan frustration but today they were brilliant, got behind us and really helped us get the vital three points.”

It was noticeable that Sunderland looked to extend their advantage for much of the second half, rather than protect it.

That was never more clear than when Ross replaced Maguire with Will Grigg, Charlie Wyke already on the pitch after Marc McNulty suffered an injury.

“It was two teams going at in the second half, a bit back and forth at times, a lot of tired legs out there as well,” Maguire said.

“We knew we needed another goal to kill it off because you’re always wary that they can get a half chance or something can happen late on.

“But we stuck in, it was a great performance, and now hopefully we can carry that on.”

McNulty’s injury was one of the few negatives for Sunderland, with Ross hopeful his hamstring problem is not too serious.

However, he seems certain to miss the trip to Rochdale on Tuesday and so Maguire will be required to maintain his promising form.

His pre-season campaign was disrupted by injury and so he was forced to watch the beginning of the campaign from the bench.

His cameo at Ipswich Town proved vital in turning the tide and securing a point after a woeful first half, underlining his importance to the team when on form.

Afterwards, Jon McLaughlin singled him out for praise in commending his ‘bravery’ on the ball.

The attacking midfielder is pleased to be up and running for the campaign and wants to surpass his tally of nine goals last season.

“It’s always good to open your account early and hopefully this year I can score more than I did last season,” he said.

“It was a bit different getting the goal inside the six-yard box! You’ve got to just try and read the game and Aiden has got past his man.

“It’s one of them, it was a dry pitch, bobbling about a bit, and when it’s coming towards you, you have to concentrate.

“It’s given us a vital win but I thought all in it was a great team performance.

“We’ve got a good understanding as a three [McNulty & Maguire], we played in a few bounce games and worked well. We know our strengths and long may it continue.”

Maguire insists the win does not change the mood inside the dressing room, which he says was positive regardless of the two opening games being draws.

This was a boost nevertheless and a promising show of character ahead of the games against Rochdale and AFC Wimbledon.

“Our spirits weren’t down, the first two games of the season you want to win but we came away with a point,” he said.

“We’re still unbeaten, so there’s nothing to be too down about. We got a good win in the cup on Tuesday which gave us a boost, knowing we’ve got that first win.

“Yes we went a goal behind today but it was great character from everyone to come back.”