Portsmouth’s Gareth Evans: Bring on Sunderland
Gareth Evans shrugged off the disappointment of fourth place and roared: Bring on Sunderland.
Pompey were pipped by Charlton to League One’s third spot on goal difference, following one point in their final two games.
Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Accrington at Fratton Park ensured Kenny Jackett’s man slipped a place – and must now face Sunderland in a two-legged play-off semi-final.
Failure by the former league leaders to claim third place dismayed Evans, who skippered the Blues on his recall against Stanley.
Nonetheless, he is relishing once again locking horns with the Black Cats following three previous encounters this season.
Evans said: ‘Against Accrington we probably weren’t sparking as well as we would have hoped, but are still full of confidence going into the play-offs – and confident of getting to where we want to be.
‘Look at the points total of 88, look back at the campaign as a whole, and I think it’s quite a good season.
‘Now we have Sunderland again, that’s going to be the fourth and fifth time we’ve played them as well, maybe you can take that as a positive. We know quite a lot about their strengths and weaknesses, but I suppose you could say for them.
‘I am confident we can beat anyone in the league – so bring it on.
‘I would like to think our Checkatrade Trophy win could have an impact on the game.
‘We’re unbeaten against them this season having played each other three times, although two of those over 90 minutes have been draws.
‘We feel we can beat them – and we go there with belief we can defeat them over two legs.’
Pompey travel to the Stadium of Light on Saturday, May 11 (7,30pm) for the first leg.
Having finished fourth, the Blues are rewarded with home advantage for the second leg, which is scheduled for Thursday, May 16 (7.45pm).
Evans added: ‘It doesn’t really matter who we had in the play-offs because you must beat whoever is in front of you.
‘But it would have been nice to finish third, I’m not going to lie about that.
‘It’s great to finish as high as you can in the table and, ahead of the final two games, we could have finished in the automatics, but we didn’t quite manage to get that third spot.
‘Still, if you had told had us at the start of the season we were going to win the Checkatrade Trophy and finish fourth then you probably would have taken it.’