Sunderland lost the EFL trophy final at Wembley on Sunday afternoon as Portsmouth beat the lads 5 – 4 on penalties in what was a thrilling game. Aiden McGeady had given the lads the lead in the first half with a brilliant free kick before Nathan Thompson took the game to extra time with a header ten minutes from time. Jamal Lowe looked to have won the game in extra time when he lobbed McLaughlin only for McGeady to pop up again at the death and take the tie to penalties. Lee Cattermole was the only Sunderland play to miss with the keeper saving his effort giving Portsmouth the win.
Jack Ross made two changes to the side that last started a game which seems like an eternity ago after the lads game against Fleetwood was postponed due to international call ups. There was returns to the side for Reece James and George Honeyman at the expense of Adam Matthew’s and Max Power with Matthew’s missing out totally through injury. Will Grigg started despite concerns over an ankle injury.
Portsmouth kicked off the game kicking towards our end and Sunderland immediately got on the front foot and forced a corner after Honeyman’s cross from the right was cut out. Leadbitter swung it in but it was too close to the keeper and he caught it easily. The game settled down a bit with neither side able to create anything in terms of chances with both sides cancelling each other out.
After ten minutes McGeady had an effort from the edge of the box but it was blocked and the visitors broke quickly through Ogle who was hacked down by Baldwin on the right hand side of the box with the Sunderland defender lucky not to be booked. The free kick was swung in deep to the back post and nodded goal wards but McLaughlin claimed it comfortably. At the other end Lewis Morgan cut in from the right and tried an ambitious effort but it was well off target. A minute later Morgan went close again when Sunderland broke and the wingers effort was deflected onto the roof of the net for a corner which Pompey cleared.
Sunderland were having the better of the opening exchanges and Honeyman was unfortunate to see his cross from the left wing cut out after he made a good run . Lewis Morgan then had another effort from the edge of the box saved easily from the keeper after a clever through ball from McGeady opened up space in front of the Portsmouth defence.
After 25 minutes Sunderland won a free kick in a dangerous position after McGeady was barged down after already leaving one Pompey defender for dead on a run forward. Leadbitter swung in the free kick which was cleared behind for a corner which was then cleared for another corner which was then cleared. Sunderland were well on top and won another free kick after Flanagan was hacked down midway inside the Portsmouth half but Leadbitter’s set piece was cleared as far as McGeady on the wing who’s cross was poor.
After half an hour we won another free kick on the right hand side of the box after Curtis hacked down O'Nien with a nasty challenge and the ref booked the defender. Leadbitter again delivered a decent looking set piece but Portsmouth defended it well nodding behind for another Sunderland corner which was taken short to Morgan and cleared as far as McGeady. He teased the Portsmouth full back and clipped a cross into the box which was half cleared as far as Morgan who stung the palms of the keeper with a great volley from the edge of the box.
Aiden McGeady then won a free kick on the edge of the box after producing a couple of sublime moments of skill leaving the Portsmouth defence no option but to hack him down. McGeady then gave Sunderland the lead with the free kick he had won by curling an unstoppable shot over the wall and into the top right hand corner of the net to send the red and white end of Wembley wild.
We went in at the break deservedly ahead after dominating the first half and neither side made any changes at the break and the visitors did come out and threaten early from a free kick which was nodded goal wards at the back post and then cleared off the line though the ref had already blew for a foil on a Sunderland defender. Five minutes later they threatened down the right hand side after Flanagan gave away possession cheaply but the cross along the six yard line missed everyone
With half an hour remaining Morgan conceded a free kick midway in the half which Portsmouth took short then stood a ball up to the back post which McLaughlin gathered easily. Moments later Portsmouth, who improved dramatically at the start of the second half, struck the post after a long diagonal ball was nodded down for Pitman who beat McLaughlin with his volley but not the frame of the goal. Sunderland were on the ropes slightly and a mistake from Flanagan misjudging a cross presented Ogle with a chance but McLaughlin did enough to put him off. Soon after Pompey went close again when Jamal Lowe got in behind Sunderland's backline but dragged his shot wide.
Portsmouth made a change with twenty minutes to play with Ogle replaced by Hawkins and he immediately wanted a penalty, along with the Pompey fans, claiming he was held in the box by Baldwin but the ref was having none of it. Jack Ross then made his first change of the game with Lynden Gooch replacing Lewis Morgan. Gooch was then followed into the pitch by Max Power who replaced Will Grigg as Jack Ross looked to see out the victory. With ten to play O’Nien lost the ball and allowed Evans to run at the Sunderland defence before he drove a shot wide of McLaughlin’s post when it looked like he had better options.
The pressure from Kenny Jackett’s side eventually told as they equalised after poor defending from both of Sunderland’s full backs. First O'Nien was caught out of position allowing two Portsmouth players space on the left before a cross from the left into the box was nodded in from Thompson after he got in front of Reece James.
Sunderland responded well and forced a corner with five minutes remaining after more good work from McGeady but Leadbitter’s corner was cleared. Reece James was then replaced by Denver Hume by Jack Ross with three minutes left to play. Aiden McGeady picked up a yellow card for a late tackle before Portsmouth went close in the first of four minutes of injury time with Leadbitter doing well to block Evan’s shot with a latch ditch block.
Neither side could find a way through in the time remaining meaning extra time followed.
Final Score – Sunderland 1 Portsmouth 1
The opening stages of the first period were uneventful though Ross made his fourth change of the game, a rule allowed if the game went into extra time, with Charlie Wyke replacing Grant Leadbitter. The best chance of the half fell to Jamal Lowe but he skewed a shot wide of the post. Both sides were starting to look tired and concede possession as the game went scrappy though it was Portsmouth who were the better of the two sides.
Portsmouth kicked off the second period and immediately went forward through Evan’s but his shot was cleared before Pitman fired a volley over the bar from the edge of the box. McLaughlin was called into action with a great save low to his left from Walkes as Sunderland seemed to be really struggling with a lot of tired legs on show. This eventually told as a long ball over the top saw Lowe bring the ball down and skip past Baldwin before chipping the ball over McLaughlin and into the back of the net.
Just as the game appeared to be up for Sunderland Aiden McGeady popped up at the death to take the tie to penalties after he stabbed home after being teed up by Wyke. The Irishman showed great composure and did brilliantly to steer his shot into the back of the net in what was Sunderland’s only real effort of the extra period. There was almost more drama at the death when at the other end Lowe had a great chance but he fluffed his shot meaning the game went to a penalty shoot out.
Final Score: AET Sunderland 2 Portsmouth 2
The penalties were taken at the Portsmouth end and Sunderland went first.
McGeady – Scored
Evans – Scored
Cattermole – Missed
Pitman – Scored
Gooch – Scored
Brown – Scored
Power – Scored
Lowe – Scored
O’Nien – Scored
Hawkins – Scored
Portsmouth win 5 – 4 on penalties
ALS Man of the Match: Aiden McGeady