Tom Naylor's Portsmouth admission on throwing ball at Chris Maguire, tussle which lead to unsavoury Luke O'Nien moment and owing Sunderland one

It’s the latest showdown between two of League One’s biggest heavyweights.

Saturday, 1st February 2020, 8:00 am
Updated Saturday, 1st February 2020, 8:00 am

Pompey and Sunderland will do battle for the seventh time in little more than 13 months at Fratton Park today.

Familiarity bred a deal of contempt between the former Premier League clubs last season, with the bragging rights being jostled in five meetings.

The Blues were crowned Checkatrade Trophy champions on a memorable day at Wembley, although it was the Black Cats who prevailed in the play-off semi-finals at the campaign’s end.

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And tempers flared increasingly as both sides got to know each other well.

A melee at the end of the first leg at the Stadium of Light following the hosts’ 1-0 win ensued, which boiled over to the return clash.

Tom Naylor thought he was about to receive his marching orders just 11 minutes into the game for launching the ball at the head of Chris Maguire.

It was a rare impulsive reaction from the ex-Burton man – but one he won’t be repeating.

Tom Naylor and his Pompey team-mates square off with Sunderland last season. Picture: Joe Pepler

Naylor said: ‘It was a big game and we played each other five times last season and it had a bit of an edge to it in the play-offs.

‘What I did was stupid and it won’t happen again. It was heat-of-the-moment stuff.

‘I don’t know what happened. Maybe he kicked out and obviously I didn’t like it but it won’t happen again.

‘I was bricking it a little bit to be fair. The ref looked at me and I thought “you’re not going to send me off are you?” Luckily he gave me a yellow card.

Tom Naylor and Luke O'Nien fell into the North Stand when battling for the ball during last season's play-off semi-final second leg. Picture: Bryn Lennon/ Getty Images

‘The gaffer said don't do anything stupid and at the start of the game I did that.

‘I never usually react. When I get a hard tackle, I usually just get straight back up but I’m not the type of person who will react.

‘It’s not in my nature and I know if I do, I’ll probably get a card.’

Naylor was at the centre of another unsavoury moment in the second half.

When challenging for the ball with Luke O’Nien in front of the North Stand, the Sunderland man tumbled into the crowd. O’Nien was then struck by a home a supporter.

Naylor added: ‘I didn’t do anything, to be fair. We were shoulder barging, he pushed me into the side and then it all happened.

‘What happened with the fans was a different story then!’

It’s Sunderland who travel to PO4 boasting the upper hand between the two sides, having won the reverse fixture 2-1 at the Stadium of Light in August.

Pompey head into the clash against the backdrop of seven successive wins, however.

And Naylor is confident the Blues can continue their superb form.

He said: ‘We lost at their place at the start of the season and we owe them one.

‘The way we are playing, I don't see why not.’