Lee Brown: Fratton faithful pulled Portsmouth to Checkatrade Trophy glory against Sunderland
Lee Brown eulogised the Fratton faithful for pulling Pompey to Checkatrade Trophy glory.
The left-back admitted the Blues wouldn’t have defeated Sunderland without the crackling atmosphere the 40,300 fans inside Wembley created.
Kenny Jackett’s troops needed a penalty shootout to claim the silverware following a 2-2 draw after extra-time.
However, Sunderland were on track to be crowned champions until Nathan Thompson’s 82nd-minute equaliser to force and additional 30 minutes.
The Black Cats dominated the first half, with Aidan McGeady breaking the deadlock in the 39th minute.
But kicking into a swarm of blue located on the west side of the stadium, Pompey pushed their foot on the gas in search of an equaliser.
Although they had to be patient, it arrived eight minutes from full-time when Thompson nodded home Gareth Evans’ cross.
The Pompey fans were in full voice during extra-time, as they were when the shootout took place in front of them.
And Brown hailed the positive impact they had on Jackett’s troops.
He said: ‘The fans were incredible. I can’t speak highly enough of them.
‘They probably pulled us through, as well.
‘When we were 1-0 down, going into those fans in the second half probably pulled us through – and credit to them.
‘They deserve credit as well because they gave us that sort of support and we can only say thank you.
‘Without a shadow of doubt it was like they were sucking the ball into the net.
‘I don’t think people realise how much of an impact that it has.
‘It is fantastic and credit to them for it.’
Pompey soaked up a barrage of pressure from Sunderland in the opening 45 minutes.
Yet they confined Jack Ross’ men to just a one-goal lead at the interval.
Brown saluted the character the Blues displayed during that rearguard action.
And the former Bristol Rovers man believes it augurs well for Pompey’s League One promotion charge with seven games remaining this season.
He added: ‘Sunderland have got some fantastic players who have played in the Championship.
‘I thought that we did quite well in the first half. They scored from a free-kick, which was a bit frustrating, but we showed fantastic character.
‘And what character that gives us going into the rest of the season.
‘As a group, if we get into half-time with a clean sheet then we always know that we have a good chance.
‘On the pitch, even though sometimes you’re against the cosh, we rode the storm and came out strong in the second half – which we did so many times in the first half of the season.’