Sunderland handed major boost for Portsmouth clash with Alim Ozturk cleared to play

Alim Ozturk has seen his controversial suspension withdrawn
Alim Ozturk has seen his controversial suspension withdrawn
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Alim Ozturk is free to face Portsmouth on Thursday night after the FA withdrew his suspension with immediate effect.

The Sunderland defender was controversially shown a straight red card in the 67th minute of the first leg for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity.

An FA spokesperson said: "Alim Öztürk’s suspension has been withdrawn with immediate effect after a claim of wrongful dismissal was upheld by an Independent Regulatory Commission today.

"The Sunderland AFC defender was sent off for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity in the first leg of the EFL League One Play-off Semi-final against Portsmouth on Saturday."

The decision had been a source of frustration from Jack Ross, who felt that Gareth Evans' touch had seen him head away from goal.

Ozturk had made the challenge as he attempted to cut off the dangerous Portsmouth counter.

Ross said: "My reaction at the time was that it was impossible for me to say whether it was a foul from my point of view, my only criticism was that it wasn’t a clear goalscoring opportunity.

“The touch has taken the player towards the side of the box and having watched it again I’d be of the same opinion.

“We will appeal it on that basis. I don’t think it was clear and obvious.

“People will think I would say that, but I have tried to take a balanced view. I felt it was an incorrect decision. Once it happens it is about trying to find a way to win the game.”

The decision is likely to cause some dismay in Portsmouth, with manager Kenny Jackett convinced it was a red card.

"I didn’t think the referee could do anything else," Jackett said.

"I thought it was a red card. Gareth is getting to the ball. He might have been a little bit wide, but he would have got to the ball and he would have been able to get a shot off."

Midfielder Evans added: "It was a blatant red card.

"I’ve got to the ball ahead of him, knocked it in front of him and he’s taken me out.

"If he’d not taken me out I was through on goal with two or three breaking behind me.

"It was a definite sending off."