Sunderland wouldn't have been relegated from the Championship if they had the unflappable Jon McLaughlin in goal

What a glorious night Sunderland had at Fratton Park last week but unless the players do the business at Wembley the two-leg victory over Portsmouth will be totally devalued and meaningless, such is the nature of the play-offs.

Monday, 20th May 2019, 10:11 am
Max Power leads the celebrations at Portsmouth's Fratton Park.

You don’t normally associate goalless draws with glory but when it gets you one step nearer the promotion that all of Wearside craves, then you most certainly can.

Jack Ross set his team up to frustrate Portsmouth and it worked a treat, it was a professional hit job on opponents that have been a thorn in our side lately so to come out on top felt good and to keep two clean sheets over the two legs was impressive.

In association with John G Hogg.

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Jon McLaughlin has got to take so much credit for that, he is so reliable and unflappable, what a pity we didn’t have him last season as instead of fighting and scrapping to get back into the Championship we would never have dropped out of it in the first place with him as the last line of defence.

The key to it all last Thursday I felt was the first 20 minutes.

I thought Portsmouth would throw everything at Sunderland to get an early goal to level things and they certainly tried but Sunderland’s organisation and game management was superb and Pompey rarely threatened and on the few occasions they did breach the Sunderland defence, there was the big guy between the sticks who refused to concede.

It would have been nice if Sunderland had scored a goal of their own, that really would have killed the tie and certainly would have helped with the nerves as a one goal advantage is never enough to truly relax.

Sunderland got the job done because they had a gameplan and stuck to it, they worked hard and never lost concentration, it wasn’t flash or free-flowing football but it was clinically effective.