By James Kilpatrick
Sunderland 1-0 Portsmouth: Chris Maguire volley hands hosts semi-final initiative
Sunderland take slender advantage to Fratton Park. Watch the second leg live on Sky Sports Football on Thursday - kick-off at 7.45pm
Last Updated: 12/05/19 4:26pm
A fine volley from Chris Maguire secures Sunderland a 1-0 victory in the first leg of their play-off semi-final against Portsmouth at the Stadium of Light.
A cagey first leg exploded into life when substitute Maguire fired the hosts ahead with a brilliant volley from inside the box midway through the second half (62).
But Sunderland were made to work hard to preserve an advantage as defender Alim Ozturk was controversially sent off for a sliding tackle on Gareth Evans six minutes later (67).
Nevertheless, the hosts held on to their narrow lead heading into the second leg on the south coast - which you can watch live on Sky Sports Football on Thursday night.
Sunderland: McLaughlin (6), Flanagan (6), Ozturk (4), O’Nien (6), Oviedo (6), Cattermole (6), Power (6), Honeyman (6), Gooch (7), Morgan (6), Wyke (7)
Subs: Maguire (8), Dunne (6)
Portsmouth: MacGillivray (7), Thompson (6), Burgess (6), Clarke (6), Walkes (6), Naylor (6), Close (6), Lowe (6), Evans (6), Curtis (6), Hawkins (5)
Subs:Bogle (5), Solomon-Otabor (5)
Man of the match: Chris Maguire
How Maguire stole the show
Portsmouth started the game confidently, but it was Sunderland who carved out the game's first opening on the quarter-hour mark in a cagey first half. Lynden Gooch, called in as a late replacement for Aiden McGeady, crossed in for Wyke, who directed his unmarked header over the bar.
Nine minutes later and Wyke was the centre of attention again when Max Power's whipped ball found the 26-year-old in the area, but the striker could not steer his half-volley on goal while under considerable pressure from Christian Burgess.
Lewis Morgan, Lee Cattermole, George Honeyman, Luke O'Nien and Bryan Oviedo all came into the starting XI. Aiden McGeady was injured in the warmup, Lynden Gooch took his place.
Jamal Lowe, Ronan Curtis and Nathan Thompson all returned to Portsmouth's starting XI.
Sunderland almost took the lead in the 54th minute when Tom Flanagan smashed a half-volley towards goal, but Tom Naylor did well to make a timely block. And five minutes later Craig MacGillivray made an unorthodox save with his face to keep out a point-blank header from George Honeyman.
The hosts did break the deadlock just past the hour-mark through Maguire, who smashed in a volley into the bottom corner following a headed clearance from Matthew Clarke.
But Sunderland's task was made more difficult when Ozturk was given his marching orders for a late sliding challenge on Evans with just over 20 minutes to go. And Portsmouth came close to equalising when Gareth Evans' free-kick crashed off the woodwork in the 71st minute.
But beyond that, Portsmouth failed to threaten the Sunderland goal which means the Wearside club take a narrow advantage into the finely-poised second leg.
Jack Ross: "I thought the red was harsh and overall as a club we felt hard done by but we can't affect it and afterwards its about trying to find a way to keep winning the game.
"We tried to score again and I don't think we were hanging on. We gave up a bit of territory within that period but the players who reminade on the park were terrific.
"There could have been more for us but I think if you go to Fratton Park with a lead we would have taken it before the game."
Kenny Jackett: "It was always going to be tight. There was a little bit of quality from Maguire who struck it well and the goalkeeper had no chance. The games we've played have been like that. We couldn't find the strikes and delivery into the box.
"It's set up for Thursday night. We're a goal down but we're capable and we can get the home crowd behind us and get back into the game.
"We lacked balance down the left-hand side and for too long it seemed we had two right-footers so I'm hopeful [Lee] Brown and [Brett] Pitman will be back for Thursday."
Man of the Match - Chris Maguire
Maguire came off the bench and changed the game with a sublime volley which will live long in the memory of Sunderland fans should they secure promotion via the play-offs.
The game needed an attacking spark in what was a nervy contest and the 30-year-old Scotsman provided it.
The sides meet again for the second leg of the semi-final at Fratton Park on Thursday, May 16. The build-up gets underway on Sky Sports Football from 7.30pm; Kick-off is at 7.45pm.