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Checkatrade Trophy

Match report: Checkatrade Trophy Final

Read our account of Sunday's record-breaking clash in the capital

31 March 2019

Portsmouth lifted the Checkatrade Trophy for the first time in their history, defeating Sunderland in front of the competition's highest-ever attendance at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

Over 85,000 fans packed the national arena and were treated to a truly memorable match, as goals from Aiden McGeady for Sunderland and Nathan Thompson for Portsmouth in either half sent the game into extra-time. Jamal Lowe then looked to have won it for Pompey with an oustanding effort, only for McGeady to send the game to spot-kicks right at the death.

There, it was the Blues who kept their nerve, scoring all five penalties in front of their travelling fans, while Lee Cattermole saw his effort saved by Craig MacGillivray, sparking scenes of blue and white delight.

Ahead of the game, Kenny Jackett's Pompey line-up included the likes of Brett Pitman, while Gareth Evans - who has captained the side in the striker's absence this season - was named on the bench. Among the Sunderland starters were experienced duo Grant Leadbitter and Will Grigg.

And with just a point and a place separating the promotion-chasing sides in Sky Bet League One, it was an expectedly close start to the Final, amid a sea of colour and a wall of noise from both sets of supporters.

Both sides had dangerous attacks within the first few minutes, with George Honeyman's inviting cross put behind by Pompey for a corner before, at the other end, Lowe was stopped in his tracks inside the Sunderland area.

On 13 minutes, Jon McLaughlin was called into action for the first time, as Christian Burgess rose highest to meet an in-swinging free-kick, but headed straight at the Sunderland goalkeeper. At the other end, the Black Cats' Jack Baldwin saw his deflected effort land on the roof of the goal. 

Portsmouth's Ronan Curtis then tried his luck as the mid-way point of the first half approached, but sliced his shot well wide. Keen to show their own attacking threat, Sunderland went close shortly after, with Grant Leadbitter's wicked free-kick glanced behind by Pompey's Tom Naylor.

A good chance arrived in the 33rd minute, when McGeady's cross was headed out as far as Lewis Morgan, who struck a powerful first-time volley which was palmed away by MacGillivray. But it was the next opportunity that was to produce the opening goal of the Final, as McGeady's 25-yard free-kick deflected in off Matt Clarke to send his fans into raptures, and his team into the break with a narrow lead.

Pompey had been struggling to get going, but came out firing after the restart with Omar Bogle's header blocked on the line, although the flag had already gone up. Lowe then made an excellent run down the right and drilled a ball across the face of goal - almost identical to the one Honeyman had played in the opening exchanges.

Evans was then introduced from the bench with Jackett's men sensing an equaliser, and he almost made an immediate impact, playing an excellent diagonal ball towards Lowe. The attacker nodded it into the path of Pitman, whose volley beat McLaughlin but came back off the woodwork. 

With noise levels inside Wembley through the roof, the Blues went close again. This time, Evans' diagonal was glanced into the path of Thompson at the far post, but he could only divert his effort over the top. Just moments later, another chance, as Lowe got in behind but dragged a shot wide.

As the clock ticked down, Oli Hawkins and Lynden Gooch joined the action for Portsmouth and Sunderland respectively, with the Black Cats looking to regain their earlier control of the game. But Pompey continued to press and went close when Evans drove forward from midfield before firing narrowly wide.

Then, with eight minutes of normal time remaining, the precious equaliser finally arrived. Evans was involved yet again, standing up a cross to the back post, where Thompson showed great desire to get in front of his man and head home. Cue yet more wild celebrations, this time from the west side of Wembley.

It meant that a game of two halves deservedly finished level after 90 minutes. Just like in the league, the sides were so closely matched. 

And so to extra-time, during which Clubs are permitted to use an extra substitution. Sunderland introduced Charlie Wyke to add an extra threat up front, but the first 15 minutes passed without a goalscoring opportunity of note. 

Moments into the second period, Evans weaved his way into the box but slipped while striking the ball, before Pitman's dipping volley went over. Uncertainty in the Sunderland area almost allowed the striker another chance with nine minutes remaining, but McLaughlin was alert to the danger and cleared his lines.

Anton Walkes replaced Ben Close for the final minutes and almost wrote his name into the history books with his first touch, but then came a key moment. Lowe gambled and won possession inside the Sunderland area before keeping his cool to produce an amazing lob over the keeper to put his side 2-1 up.

And just when it seemed that Lowe's would be the winning goal, the pendulum swung again as ever-dangerous McGeady stayed calm with almost the last kick of extra-time, dragging the ball past a defender before firing home from close range. 

McGeady's effort meant penalties would decide the winner and, from the spot, Portsmouth made no mistake. Five perfect efforts, coupled with MacGillivray's save from Cattermole, meant the Trophy belonged to the Blues. It was heartbreak for Sunderland, who played their part in a fantastic Final, but the day belonged to Jackett and his side, with the Pompey manager winning the competition for a second time.

PortsmouthMacGillivray, Thompson, Burgess, Clarke, Brown, Naylor, Close (Walkes 112'), Lowe, Pitman, Curtis (Evans 56'), Bogle (Hawkins 69').

Subs not usedBass, Haunstrup, May, Vaughan.

Booked: Curtis, Evans

Goals: Thompson 82', Lowe 114'

SunderlandMclaughlin, Flanagan, Baldwin, O’Nien, James (Hume 88'), Cattermole, Leadbitter (Wyke 94'), Morgan (Gooch 73'), McGeady, Honeyman, Grigg (Power 77').

Subs not usedRuiter, Dunne, McGeouch.

Booked: Baldwin, McGeady

Goals: McGeady 38', 119'

Attendance: 85,021

Man of the Match: Matt Clarke


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