Jack Ross: Portsmouth have no play-off advantage over Sunderland

Jack Ross has dismissed suggestions Pompey hold an advantage over Sunderland because the second leg of their League One play-off semi-final will be played at Fratton Park.

Wednesday, 8th May 2019, 1:29 pm
Updated Friday, 10th May 2019, 12:02 am
Sunderland manager Jack Ross

The two teams go head-to-head for the right to take on Charlton or Doncaster Rovers at Wembley on Sunday, May 26, when a place in the Championship will be up for grabs.

The first leg will be played at the Stadium of Light on Saturday (7.30pm), with the return leg at PO4 on Thursday, May 16 (7.45pm).

Pompey host the second leg after they finished above the Black Cats in the final league table.

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But Ross believes where game two is played has little bearing on who progresses to the play-off final.

Instead, he’s simply focusing on ensuring Sunderland are the better side over both legs – and that’s all that matters.

‘No, I think that is irrelevant (where the second leg is played), I don’t think it makes any difference,’ Ross told the Sunderland Echo.

‘I didn’t have any preference over the team we played or any preference over it being home or away first because the truth is you have to be better than the opposition over the two games.

‘I don’t think it is a major consequence when or where the game is, it is just up to us to be better over the two legs.

‘I genuinely hadn’t thought about playing any of the teams or looked at the permutations.

‘I hadn’t looked at home or away because we know all about the pressure of these games and what’s at stake, and how close we’ve all been over the course of the season.

‘It’s just about who’s going to be better over the two legs now.

‘The truth is you have to win three games, or at least find a way of coming through these three games and making sure that you come out the other side with the right result.’

Pompey were last involved in the end-of-season play-offs in 2016.

That League Two season, they played host to Plymouth in the semi-final first leg – a game they drew 2-2.

The second leg at Home Park saw the Pilgrims progress to Wembley thanks to Peter Hartley’s last-gasp winner.