Eastern Road Debrief: Sunderland 1-0 Portsmouth – Blues Pulled Asunder

By Ryan Stillwell

Pompey get into the final third ✅

Pompey unable to generate meaningful efforts on goal ✅

Pompey woeful from all forms of crossing ✅

Pompey play themselves into trouble ✅

Pompey gift-wrap a winning goal to the opposition ✅

Pompey fade into obscurity as their attacking intent wilts into mediocrity ✅

It’s a familiar tale of 2022, and it reared its ugly yet inevitably true head once again on Saturday, this time with an important caveat: The game was played in a Narnia post code. 

You’ll forgive me if after driving 700 miles in a single day to watch the same old procession take place amid the backdrop of its own discombobulated soundtrack, I’m a little terse.

Seeing as the above tick points somehow make an accurate match report, it’s straight onto…

What We Learned

Pompey Don’t Learn

The first 20 minutes were among Pompey’s best this season. They harried the hosts at every turn, now allowing them any time on the ball, using the pitch well both in its expansiveness and in small pockets. Everybody appeared to comfortable on the ball, the Black Cats had no way in.

Inevitably, it changed. Ronan Curtis had done well to win the back back on halfway and create space for himself. A lax pass back inside, and Sunderland were away. Elliot Embleton’s effort was parried by Gavin Bazunu, and he scrambled away the second attempt.

The hosts were now in the game, apparently unbeknownst to the visitors. Over the next 20 minutes, a series of deep possession losses from all of the back three would lead to Sunderland chances, particularly when Sean Raggett was dispossessed, and Leon Dajaku opted to shoot, when a slide ball would have certainly ended in a goal.

Hayden Carter’s giveaway was thematic of a shaky period at the back, and it eventually cost them. It may be harsh to criticise a defence that has been the strong point of Pompey’s season to date, but the warning signs were oh so clear. They failed to use caution and Sunderland grew in the game, not learning an iota from their previous instances of giving it away cheaply. Once again, it’s the reason why the Blues left a game with nothing. 

Footballers have instincts, they play the game all the time. They breathe their profession. Pompey are a side that are supposed to be good at sniffing out trouble and exploiting it, it’s the hallmark of a good pressing side. It’s baffling then, that this side cannot smell trouble when they’re on the ball, that they’re deaf to the alarm bells telling them to get rid of it. Pompey would otherwise have left with a point. Those are the fine margins.


It’s still an interesting case that fans are surprised by what they see. Pompey have the capacity to gift-wrap games to the opposition while not creating enough meaningful chances themselves. Half a season in, this is not news.

Player Ratings

Gavin Bazunu – 5 – Didn’t seem to set himself properly for the goal.

Hayden Carter – 4 – A composed figure at Wimbledon, he didn’t learn from his own earlier error, and gifted the hosts a needless winner.

Sean Raggett – 5 – His own errors went unpunished, pockmarking an otherwise competent showing.

Clark Robertson – 6 – Considering the game he was chucked into after several months out, he applied himself okay for the most part.

Mahlon Romeo – 5 – Energetic, but the final product lacked severely.

Reeco Hackett – 3 – Hapless in every third of the pitch. His worst showing yet.

Louis Thompson – 6 – A couple of burly challenges, he spearheaded the early fight.

Joe Morrell – 6 – Alongside Thompson, controlled the middle so well in the first half. Faded in the second half. 

Marcus Harness – 5 – All abuzz but not really creating enough. Also passed up a huge opportunity.

Tyler Walker – 6 – Dropped into neat little pockets to move the ball along.

Ronan Curtis – 5 – Haircut video the best performance of his week.


George Hirst (on in 71st) – 5 – Every team gets one final chance. He failed to even find the target with it.

Shaun Williams (on in 71st) – 5 – Couldn’t influence the game, and collected a booking.

Michael Jacobs (on in 78th) – 7 – Whatever Jacobs is now fighting for, it’s working. Had Pompey’s only shot on target in the second half, and whipped a great corner in for one last chance.

To keep up to date with Eastern Road Debrief content, follow @PompeyViking62 on Twitter.

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