Sunderland or Bristol Rovers to face Portsmouth in Checkatrade final as Pompey boss makes appeal to absent fans
Sunderland or Bristol Rovers will face Portsmouth in the Checkatrade Trophy final at Wembley after Pompey comfortably beat Bury 3-0.
Goals from Ronan Curtis, Gareth Evans and Oli Hawkins saw Kenny Jackett’s side win the semi-final with ease in the end and reach the Wembley final, scheduled for March 31.
And Jackett hopes the absent Fratton faithful will re-emerge at Wembley, with Pompey fans boycotting the controversial competition in large numbers this season.
Sunderland travel to Bristol Rovers next Tuesday for their semi-final clash, fresh from their 2-0 win at the Memorial Stadium last weekend.
The semi-finals are one leg and the tie must be decided on the night.
Sunderland supporters have attended Checkatrade Trophy games in large numbers this season, with Jack Ross taking the competition seriously throughout.
But the fanbase of finalists Pompey have been boycotting the competition in large numbers.
The decision to revamp the competition in 2016 and introduce Premier League and Championship Under-21 sides has not gone down well with fans of many League One and Two clubs, with attendances for Checkatrade Trophy games notoriously low.
But now that Pompey are in the final, Jackett hopes supporters will return to back his side.
Jackett told our sister title The News: “I think the latter stages build up in interest.
“We’ve had some tricky away ties, and Bury was one of them, but if we had been at home in this stage of the competition I do think we would have got a good attendance.
“As it gets closer, the interest level builds up, it's quite natural.
“In the early rounds it looks a long way away, yesterday was our seventh game this season in this competition.
“Having said that, we are there now, we don’t want to go and make the numbers up, we want to go there and try to win if we can.
“I do hope there will now be more interest among fans, we haven’t been to Wembley for a number of years and I’m sure we will generate a lot of interest.
“Hopefully for our season it can also spur us on and give confidence.”
Sunderland host Plymouth Argyle at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, in League One, before making the long trip south to Bristol on Tuesday for the second time in 11 days.