Gaffer: Portsmouth against Sunderland is our biggest match for 10 years

Gaffer for a Day, Brendon Bone, aged 47 from Bursledon, looks ahead to the play-off semi-final second-leg clash with Sunderland...

Wednesday, 15th May 2019, 4:28 pm
Gaffer for a Day, Brendon Bone, would like to see Viv Solomon-Otabor start against Sunderland in the play-off semi-final second leg. Picture: Joe Pepler

Midweek matches under the Fratton Park floodlights are the best games ever.

In fact, this is probably our biggest match for 10 years, since the FA Cup finals.

Getting back into the Championship this early in the Tornante reign would be fantastic. Whether or not they planned for it is another matter altogether.

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This club’s level is the Championship – and for Kenny Jackett to achieve that in his second season would be tremendous.

The tie is still up in the air, despite Sunderland celebrating at their place like they had already knocked us out, thinking they’d already done the job.

I actually believe we’ll win and go through to Wembley, but it could be a tight game, maybe extra-time and penalties.

I’m praying Brett Pitman will be fit, any creativity we’ve had in the last few months has gone through him. If he’s fit, he has to play.

Even if we can get an hour out of him, we need him there. He brings everyone around him into play and sees things superbly, the turnaround since March is largely due to Pitman in the team.

Lee Brown is the other injury doubt, but I am ambivalent to him, Anton Walkes is all right there.

Brown is solid, but if you are a marauding full-back you need somebody better at passing. He and Ronan Curtis have been underwhelming down that left flank during the last 2-3 months.

I would select Viv Solomon-Otabor instead of Curtis. Take the shackles off him, let him get at their right-back, Luke O’Nien, get him turned.

In terms of who plays as the lone striker, I’ve not seen enough of Omar Bogle, but in this system we do need a big lump up there.

I’m sticking with Oli Hawkins, though, who takes a lot of flack, but the one thing he does is win the ball in the air.

He reminds me of Lee Mills, in that he brings others into the game, yet doesn’t get his share of goals. I would play him against Sunderland, 100 per cent.


Pompey (4-2-3-1): MacGillivray, Thompson, Burgess, Clarke, Brown, Naylor, Close, Lowe, Pitman, Solomon-Otabor, Hawkins.