Sunderland seal first-leg led despite finishing with 10 men



Posted Sunday, May 12, 2019 by PA

Sunderland seal first-leg led despite finishing with 10 men

Sunderland will take a one-goal lead to Fratton Park on Thursday night after they shrugged off the second-half dismissal of Alim Ozturk to claim a 1-0 win over Portsmouth in the first leg of their League One play-off semi-final.

Chris Maguire scored the only goal of the game midway through the second half, smashing home a first-time volley just five minutes after leaving the substitutes’ bench.

Sunderland had to play the final 23 minutes with 10 men after Ozturk was controversially sent off for a foul on Gareth Evans but the Black Cats held on, with both sides hitting the woodwork in the closing stages.

Sunderland’s preparations were dealt a significant blow in the warm-up when Aiden McGeady suffered an injury that forced his withdrawal from the starting line-up.

With their main attacking threat unavailable, Sunderland initially struggled to carve out clear-cut chances. Portsmouth were equally unthreatening for much of the game, and it was the final minute of the first half before either side fashioned an effort on target, with Lynden Gooch spinning away from his marker before drilling a low strike straight at Pompey keeper Craig MacGillivray.

Prior to that, there was a lot of huffing and puffing but precious little in the way of composed attacking from either side. Too many of Sunderland’s attacks consisted of aimless long balls directed at Charlie Wyke, while Portsmouth were unable to get the dangerous Jamal Lowe on the ball in the final third.

Lee Cattermole glanced an early header wide of the target and Wyke hooked a half-volley over the crossbar after stealing ahead of his marker to reach Max Power’s cross.

Ronan Curtis dragged a long-range shot wide for the visitors, but the interval arrived without either goalkeeper having been seriously threatened.

That changed shortly before the hour mark, with MacGillivray making a superb save to keep out George Honeyman’s close-range header. The Sunderland midfielder got a lot of power into his effort as he met Gooch’s left-wing cross, but MacGillivray somehow deflected the ball over the crossbar.

Three minutes later, however, the Pompey keeper was beaten. Bryan Oviedo delivered a cross from the left and while Matt Clarke looped a defensive header towards the edge of the area, Maguire watched the ball drop from the sky before smashing home an excellent first-time volley.

The goal sparked a euphoric reaction from the home supporters, but their mood changed markedly when Sunderland were reduced to 10 men five minutes later.

Ozturk brought down Evans as he galloped towards the 18-yard box and even though the Portsmouth midfielder appeared to be heading away from goal, referee Andy Woolmer produced a straight red card.

Portsmouth almost inflicted further punishment when Evans drilled the resultant free-kick against the crossbar via the slightest of flicks off substitute Jimmy Dunne’s head.

Luke O’Nien blocked a close-range effort from Omar Bogle as Pompey piled on the pressure in the closing stages, but Sunderland almost grabbed a second goal with 11 minutes left as Maguire advanced from the halfway line before drilling a long-range shot against the base of the post.

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