Why Sunderland hate Fratton Park - and how it offers Portsmouth and Kenny Jackett timely encouragement
How the Fratton fortress has proven unconquerable for Sunderland in recent times.
Certainly that represents encouraging news ahead of tonight’s fixture – a timely boost for under-fire Kenny Jackett too.
It has been more than 23 years since the Black Cats last tasted victory on the south coast.
Bearing in mind that consists of nine Fratton Park fixtures between the sides since Sunderland won in November 1997, there is early reason to be heartened.
On that occasion, the visitors ran out 4-1 winners after initially falling behind to John Aloisi’s opener.
During the ensuing years, Sunderland have failed to triumph at Pompey’s home in the Premier League, FA Cup, League One and the play-offs.
The Blues have won six of those nine encounters, with the remaining three ending in draws.
In fact, Kenny Jackett’s men have claimed success in consecutive seasons before tonight’s scheduled meeting.
Perhaps it shouldn’t be overlooked, though, that Sunderland are presently among the most in-form sides in League One.
Not wishing to dampen enthusiasm, but Lee Johnson’s side have lost twice in their last 21 matches in all competitions.
It’s an outstanding run which has lifted them into fourth spot in League One and booked a place in the Papa John’s Trophy final.
Their Wembley encounter with Tranmere is to take place 24 hours after Pompey face Salford at the same venue in the 2020 final.
Still, Sunderland have failed to score on just one occasion during their remarkable 21-game spell – a goalless draw at Northampton.
Coincidentally, Pompey will meet them fresh from shipping in four goals against the struggling Cobblers during the opening 43 minutes of Saturday’s encounter.
The form of Jackett’s men in comparison is four points from a possible 18 – and six defeats in 11 fixtures.
Jackett is battling to maintain the Blues’ interest in the play-offs, with the top two now 10 points clear.
He can ill-afford another defeat during a wretched period in which his own position is again under intense scrutiny.
At least Jackett can cling onto the hope that tonight can be the start of Pompey’s rescue. After all, Fratton Park has proven impregnable to Sunderland.
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
On Saturday, March 13 Pompey will finally get their day at Wembley.
To celebrate the Blues’ place in the rearranged 2020 EFL Trophy Final, The News has launched an offer that gets you 25% off all our Sports subscriptions.
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