Max Power and Jack Ross explain why Wembley heartbreak won't affect Sunderland in latest Portsmouth battle

Sunderland are confident their last defeat to Portsmouth will have no impact this Saturday
Sunderland are confident their last defeat to Portsmouth will have no impact this Saturday
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It seems incredible that not even a month has passed since one of the most remarkable games in Sunderland's modern history.

The Checkatrade Trophy was never a competition that either Portsmouth or the Black Cats had at the top of their agenda this season, but there was no disguising the pressure or emotion of that afternoon at Wembley.

A game in which the momentum swung wildly, with late goals, a punishing intensity and a dramatic penalty shootout.

Sunderland have had their fair share of drama since then.

A late winner at Rochdale, a wild game game against Coventry City and heartbreak against Peterborough United.

That weekend in the capital feels a lifetime ago but there will unquestionably be a familiarity about the two sides on Saturday.

Only this time, the stakes are even higher.

After scoring his first Portsmouth goal in that final, full back Nathan Thompson said he felt that win, as well as the 3-1 victory at Fratton Park in December, could lead to a psychological edge.
Sunderland, though, are eager to prove there is very little between the two sides and give their own promotion hopes a vital boost.

“The Wembley game was what it was," said midfielder Max Power.

"We’ve lost on a penalty shoot-out. Everyone knew it was a game of two halves – first half at Wembley we were very good, second half they were very good and then extra-time, it becomes not false, but it’s two teams going at it with tired bodies and minds and you end up going to a penalty shoot-out which could go either way.

“In terms of the first league game, I think the first half down there we were well in control but second half we suffered a sending off and ended up going on to lose the game.

“It’s a good game, it takes care of itself now," he added.

“It was always going to be a big game and now it’s just got bigger, certainly for us, but Portsmouth need to win as well. They’ll feel as if they win their games, they’ll go up.

“We’ll see. I’m sure there’s still twists and turns yet."

For Jack Ross, it has been about stressing the good of that Wembley performance in the build-up to this clash.

Above all else the Black Cats boss is eager to see a ruthless streak from his side on Saturday afternoon.

"It can often happen in football and I've remarked on it before, people can forget the first parts of the game," Ross said.

"The truth is in the first half we were really, really good.

"It's about emphasizing that [with the players] and making sure that if we do have a spell like that, it's how you capitalise on it, because I could argue that with the Peterborough game as well.

"First half I thought, away from home, we were good and created opportunities, but we didn't take them.

"I think that comes back to haunt you when you're playing against a team who are evenly matched."

For both sides automatic promotion remains a very attainable goal but the prospect of a fourth contest in the play-offs remains a possibility.

Sunderland will know that if this season is to be successful, a first win of the campaign over Pompey has to come sooner rather than later.