Swaggering Portsmouth dispatch in-form rivals Sunderland to close in on League One promotion places
Pompey’s season hit another high as they continued a buoyant start to 2020 with a 2-0 win over promotion rivals Sunderland.
The swaggering Blues made it a record-equalling eight wins on the bounce and inflicted a first defeat on the Black Cats in 10 at a rocking Fratton Park.
Defenders Christian Burgess and James Bolton got the goals with Kenny Jackett’s side dominant after the break following a first 45 minutes in which the old foes stood toe to toe.
The victory saw Pompey return to the play-off places in front of a crowd of 18,531 - and they are now just three points off second-placed Wycombe with two games in hand.
There was another frenetic pace set between the two familiar rivals from the outset at Fratton Park.
Ryan Williams was inches away from the opener in the 13th minute with a header from a delicious ball in from Ronan Curtis.
But there was a huge miss seconds later as Pompey old boy miscued his shot completely from eight yards from Denver Hume’s cutback.
Then Pompey had the woodwork to thank as Luke O’Nien hit a fine angled drive which came back off the woodwork and hit Alex Bass on the back before going out for a corner.
The opener came after 25 minutes as Curtis put in another delicious free-kick and Christian Burgess rose home to head home at the back post.
It should have been two moments later as the ball ricocheted and dropped to John Marquis in the box but the striker wasted the chance by firing wide.
There were handbags before the break after a daft appeal for a Sunderland penalty as Alex Bass smothered the ball and Chris Maguire went to ground afterwards. That sparked a melee with Steve Seddon and Lynden Gooch booked.
Ellis Harrison replaced Marquis at the break as Kyle Lafferty came on for Charlie Wyke.
Williams flicked a header just past the post a few minutes after the restart, but that didn’t matter when Bolton got the second in the 52nd minute.
The defender was the man to apply the finish from a few yards from yet another dangerous Curtis delivery from a corner.
It should have been 3-0 minutes late as first McLaughlin made an excellent stop from Harrison’s header and then Cannon ‘s follow-up was blocked. Then it was Raggett who missed a great chance seconds later somehow firing wide from three yards from Cannon’s cross.
Then was a long stoppage with 10 minutes left after Joel Lynch collided with McLaughlin and Harrison in an incident which saw Williams opt to cross instead of shoot at an unguarded net.
Lynch was stretchered off and that meant nine minutes of stoppage time with Sunderland down to 10 men.