Sunderland boss Jack Ross: Portsmouth game has unique place in League One promotion race
With so much riding on Pompey’s visit to Sunderland, Jack Ross believes the fixture has a unique standing in this season’s League One calendar.
Both teams go into the game desperate for the win that could ultimately pave the way to automatic promotion.
The Blues remain in the driving seat – despite being two points adrift of second-place Barnsley.
They have a game in hand on the Tykes and will clinch a top-two finish if they claim maximum points from their three remaining League One matches.
Sunderland have also played a game less than the Oakwell outfit – but currently sit four points adrift.
They’ll need other results to go their way if they are to finish in the top two.
Yet there’s no getting away from the fact that, just like Pompey, victory at the Stadium of Light on Saturday will be essential if they are to avoid the play-offs.
With Barnsley’s remaining fixtures seeing them face Blackpool (H) and Bristol Rovers (A), many expect them to claim all six points from their two remaining fixtures.
That scenario means nothing less than a win for either side will do in the grand scheme of things.
And, according to Ross, that’s why Saturday’s game should be seen as a cup final of sorts or do-or-die final day of the season match-up.
‘It has a final-day feel about it, without it being the final day,’ Ross told the Sunderland Echo.
‘I think that's why we've got to look at it in isolation.
‘Because of the week ahead Portsmouth have got as well, it's a game that they've just got to look at (in isolation) as well.
‘I imagine there will be periods of the game where it is going to feel frenetic and I kind of felt that with the games over the Easter period as well.
‘You can feel the increased tension in the games.
‘Not just in our case, with other teams at the top, and that's why you see some of the results that pop up.
‘Saturday will have that.
‘You'd like not to have that in the sense that you'd love to be in a better position, but equally it is exciting as well, knowing that you've got such a fixture to look forward to.’