Gary Rowell: This is why the second half against Portsmouth will concern Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson

For 25 minutes Sunderland were well in the game against Portsmouth on Saturday, they were so unlucky when Luke O’Nien’s long-range effort crashed against the post.

Monday, 3rd February 2020, 12:55 pm

But it has to be said, as soon as Portsmouth scored the first goal there was only ever going to be one winner.

The second half was particularly worrying, as Sunderland laboured and confidence and belief seemed to drop quickly, which is another thing for Phil Parkinson to worry about.

The scoreline could have been worse for Sunderland but for Jon McLaughlin, it was just a bad day all round against a major rival and the away fans must have been so frustrated on the long journey back to the North East.

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Sunderland forward Duncan Watmore was a second half sub against Portsmouth.

Sunderland should have had at least one penalty and if it is true that these things even themselves out over a long campaign then we are due an awful lot going our way in the second half of the season.

I won’t hold my breathe though.

Did that midweek game on the pitch at Tranmere take energy out of the players?

It is possible but that doesn’t explain the misplaced passes, picking the wrong options or our vulnerability from set pieces as Sunderland’s defending went to pieces.

Both the Pompey goals came from set pieces and while the delivery in was decent, a good organised defence should have been able to cope far better.

With the benefit of hindsight, it might have been better to rest one or two from the midweek game, especially with new players arriving but it is always tempting for a manager to say ‘same again, lads’ after an away win.

So, Sunderland’s nine-game unbeaten run ended at Portsmouth on Saturday, and unfortunately I don’t think anyone could say it didn’t deserve to.