Sunderland dropped out of the playoffs as the nine-match unbeaten run came to an end with a shocking defensive display at Fratton Park.
Sunderland were a little unlucky to 1-0 down through a Christian Burgess goal, but the second half was a horror show as James Bolton doubled the hosts lead. Portsmouth could have had three or four if it weren’t for Jon Mclaughlin in inspired form.
The last time the lads were in Portsmouth they were celebrating a return to Wembley in the Play-Off final, but the less said about that the better.
Following the win against Tranmere Phil Parkinson stuck with the same line-up. Deadline day signing Antoine Semenyo went straight into the squad and started on the bench.
The opening ten minutes were played at a high tempo with both teams trying to put their stamp on what was a big game at the top of League One.
Sunderland had the first chance of the game as Joel Lynch played a great ball over the top to Charlie Wyke who controlled it brilliantly with his head and got a shot away that was well saved by Alex Bass.
Portsmouth were inches away from taking the lead as Ronan Curtis’ teasing ball in was flicked on by Ryan Williams who was whiskers away.
The lads should have taken the lead as Denver Hume got to the by-line and pulled it back to Chris Maguire from eight yards out who fluffed his chance – a great chance missed.
It was a positive start to the game from the lads who had already had two good chances to take the lead.
Luke O’Nien was a lick of paint from scoring a goal of the season contender; the full-back unleashed a thunderous volley from range with his left foot that cracked off the post then hit the back of Bass and rolled out for a corner.
Portsmouth took the lead 26 minutes into the game it was another free-kick from Curtis, he found Burgess who was completely free in the box and couldn’t miss. At any level of football if you leave the big 6ft 5 centre half free from a set-piece you’re in trouble.
Minutes later John Marquis should have doubled his sides lead; he turned and unleashed a fierce effort which had McLaughlin beaten, but flashed past the post.
Sunderland were outraged that the referee didn’t award a penalty as Maguire was tripped from behind by Curtis and it looked like a clear foul, but nothing was given.
Despite being behind, Parkinson’s men had played the better football and would have been aggrieved to be behind.
The hosts almost doubled their lead as a cross was put in and Bailey Wright headed towards his own goal and caused McLaughlin to react brilliantly to save; moments later the ball was delivered to Bolton from the left and should have scored.
The first half whistle ended a feisty affair at Fratton Park and Sunderland could have easily been winning going into the half but were behind due to some shocking defending from a set-piece.
Charlie Wyke suffered an injury right on the stroke of half time and was replaced by Kyle Lafferty who led the line for the second half.
Sunderland hadn’t learned their lesson and conceded from a set-piece yet again – the lads looked all at sea and Bolton managed to turn Curtis’ corner home.
Parkinson’s men had a big job on their hands to rescue anything from this game and the Sunderland boss will no doubt be fuming at conceding two sloppy goals.
The lads were a mess. Portsmouth’s Ellis Harrison had a great chance to make it three, but his header was straight at McLaughlin who reacted brilliantly.
Somehow, Pompey weren’t three up as Sean Raggett fired wide from less than six yards out – Sunderland were in dire straits.
With 20 minutes to go, Semenyo and Duncan Watmore came on for Maguire and Hume in a bid to get back into the game and drag the team back into the game.
Sunderland were showing no signs of getting a goal, the game was being played at Portsmouth’s pace and were in complete control.
Portsmouth almost made it three with as Lynch and McLaughlin charged into each other, but Sunderland stopper got back onto his line to deny a third.
Lynch was in serious trouble from the collision, the centre back was down for several minutes and was stretchered off with a neck brace in place which left Sunderland with only ten men. It did not look good at all for the big man who appeared to be sent straight to the ambulance and was met by applause by all supporters wishing him well.
There were nine minutes of added-on time and McLaughlin made a great save to deny Harrison from adding a third with a long-range effort.
Full Time: Portsmouth 2-0 Sunderland
ALS Man of the Match: Jon McLaughlin