Match report: Lads play down Pompey

Sunderland 2-1 Portsmouth

Sunderland came from behind to overpower Portsmouth and earn their first League One win of the season on Saturday.

Pompey struck first at the Stadium of Light through Marcus Harness, but Jack Ross’ side provided the perfect response before the break to turn the game on its head.

Five minutes after falling behind, Jordan Willis’ first goal for the club hauled the Lads level, before Aiden McGeady and Chris Maguire combined and the latter made it 2-1.

The visitors toiled without troubling too much in the second period, and when called upon, Jon McLaughlin was at his commanding best to ensure the Lads picked up a second win on the bounce.

After impressing at Accrington Stanley, several players retained their places in the first XI, as Alim Ozturk, Max Power, Grant Leadbitter and Maguire made their first league starts of the campaign.

Ronan Curtis fired an early warning with just 40 seconds on the clock, but it caused no more than a split-second of panic for those in red and white, as the winger’s header sailed off target.

A sliding challenge from Leadbitter sparked a rousing noise from the Roker End shortly after, but Pompey remained in control of the ball, albeit without testing Jon McLaughlin.

The Sunderland ‘keeper’s first test arrived on 12 minutes, as summer signing Jon Marquis chased down a clipped ball over the top before being beaten to the punch by the stopper.

Aiden McGeady menaced shortly after – forcing the visitors to lash the ball behind – with Luke O’Nien making a vital interception to stop the countering Marcus Harness.

With 22 minutes played, Harness couldn’t be stopped despite the Lads backline having multiple opportunities to clear, and a well-taken finish handed Pompey a 1-0 lead.

But the lead didn’t last long.

Multiple Leadbitter corners had already put the visitors under pressure, and this time Willis took full advantage, towering above all others to head beyond Craig MacGillivray and level.

And before the break, the game completely flipped on its head, Maguire tapping home a simple finish following incisive play from McGeady.

Charlie Wyke entered the fray shortly after the restart, with McNulty unable to shake off a knock, and he immediately put MacGillvray under pressure.

At the other end, Marquis did well to find some space, but a wayward effort failed to test McLaughlin before the referee waved away penalty appeals after Maguire went down in the box.

Kenny Jackett responded with a double change – Ronan Curtis and Andy Cannon replaced by Ellis Harrison and Gareth Evans – and the game opened up as time ticked away.

McLaughlin, who was at his commanding best, did well to deny Gareth Evans when Pompey found a rare route in behind, with the Black Cats looking to pounce on the break.

But the second period ended like the first, with Sunderland claiming a deserved win on Wearside,

Sunderland: McLaughlin, Willis, Ozturk, O’Nien, C McLaughlin, Leadbitter, Power, Gooch, McGeady (Grigg 81), Maguire, McNulty (Wyke 49).
Subs not used: Burge, McGeouch, Flanagan, Dobson, Hume.

Portsmouth: MacGillivray, Walkes (McCrorie 73), Downing, Burgess, Brown, Naylor, Close, Cannon (Evans 63), Harness, Curtis (Harrison 63), Marquis.
Subs not used: Bass, Haunstrup, Raggett, Pitman.

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