Jack Ross drops Sunderland selection hint ahead of Portsmouth return leg as he hails 'terrific' Chris Maguire
There was a distinct lack of quality in Sunderland’s play-off semi-final against Portsmouth until Chris Maguire strode off the bench and fired the Black Cats ahead.
Maguire had only been on the pitch four minutes before he struck an unstoppable volley past Craig MacGillivray in the 62nd minute, to cue wild celebrations in front of the Roker End.
It was a stunning strike worthy of winning any game.
Sunderland have a slender one goal advantage heading into the second leg at Fratton Park on Thursday evening.
It could have been more but the course of the game changed when Alim Ozturk was shown a straight red just five minutes after Maguire’s moment of magic, Sunderland doing well to hold on to their advantage.
Maguire is now in contention to start against Portsmouth in the return leg.
“We know Chris is capable of that,” said Ross.
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“When you bring him on you hope he will produce that moment of quality either creating something or scoring.
“In that part of the game we were on the front foot, in the ascendancy, and you have to capitalise on that
“It was a terrific strike, a terrific goal, from a player who is obviously capable of that.
“He is still working his way back to full fitness. He was always going to come on the park fairly early, how we thought the game would pan out.
“He’s given himself an opportunity to play again on Thursday, that’s all you can ask him to do.
“From the moment he came on the pitch his overall effect on the game was good, even when we asked him to drop into a wide area when we went down to ten men.”