Sean Raggett: Why Sunderland were the perfect opposition for a Portsmouth side struggling to win
Nursing defeat at Burton and weighed down by eight matches without victory, understandably few embraced the idea of locking horns with League One’s leaders.
For Sean Raggett, however, Sunderland represented the ‘perfect game’.
Sure enough, Danny Cowley’s men pulled off a victory on Saturday which would have surprised many of the Fratton faithful.
As for a 4-0 scoreline in the Blues’ favour, it was downright improbable.
Still, Raggett believes the Black Cats offered the ideal fixture for a team struggling for form and wins.
Sure enough, he was proven correct.
He told The News: ‘We all knew Burton wasn't good enough and we needed a reaction on Saturday.
‘I have to say, Sunderland was the perfect game for us.
‘We played a really good team who came at us, and we showed a really good response to demonstrate what this group is capable of.
‘Sunderland were going to come out at us and we were going to go out at them. Other teams might have come here and set up against us, making it a bit more difficult.
‘Not Sunderland, though, which is why it was the perfect game to respond - and show a real statement that we are not that team from Tuesday night.
‘It was probably the most complete performance from us this season. It may not have been the prettiest on the eye, but, from what we set up to do from the off, we carried it out.
‘A result like that was coming, looking back at the Plymouth and Charlton games, I thought we had played well.
‘We’ll take huge confidence from Saturday, we know we are capable of producing those kinds of performances, now it’s trying to recreate that every week.’
Saturday’s encounter was played amid difficult playing conditions, with torrential rain and a pitch which steadily began to flood in some parts.
It ensured the threat of abandonment always hovered over the Fratton Park clash, a fate which would have been appreciated by Sunderland.
As it was, referee Ben Toner allowed the game to reach its natural conclusion.
Raggett added: ‘I’ve played a few games like that, in non-league it’s like that every other week!
‘I didn’t really think about the game being called off to be honest. To be fair to the referee, he strayed strong, despite getting a bit of pressure from them to call it off.
‘It wasn’t too bad in the middle of the pitch, but there was so much water in the corners. So many times it was impossible to run with the ball, you just had to stop.
‘It needed a lot of concentration defensively, although a couple of times I was sliding for about 10 minutes trying to get back up.
‘We played the conditions really well. We understood that playing out from the back on Saturday wasn’t really on too much.’
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