A clash of the titans in Sky Bet League One awaits this weekend in the EFL featured game, as Portsmouth welcome Sunderland to the south coast.
There has been a lot riding on previous encounters between the two teams, having met in the 2019 EFL Trophy Final and just two months later in the League One Play-Off Semi-Finals, Portsmouth and Sunderland will lock horns under less salient circumstances, but all is still to play for.
Portsmouth host League One leaders Sunderland at Fratton Park on Saturday 2 October, with a 15:00 kick-off in Hampshire this afternoon.
At the helm
Alongside brother and assistant coach Nicky, Portsmouth manager Danny Cowley inked long-term contract in May to remain at Fratton Park, after the pair guided the Club to an eighth-place finish in League One in 2020/21.
In his first full season in charge, Pompey have endured a largely inconsistent start to the season, but the duo will be hoping to right those wrongs and get their campaign back on track later today.
Lee Johnson will occupy the opposite dugout for Sunderland, with the 40-year-old a popular figure at the Stadium of Light.
Since joining the Club in 2020, the former Bristol City boss has already brought silverware to the trophy cabinet, beating Tranmere Rovers in the Papa Johns Trophy Final at Wembley.
Former Burton Albion man Marcus Harness made his 99th Portsmouth appearance in midweek against his former employers and, in spite of the score-line, the midweek fixture puts the attacker on the verge of a significant milestone ahead of this weekend’s clash with Pompey.
The 25-year-old could look to pull out all the stops on his 100th, should he be selected by Cowley, who has encouraged Harness to be more selfish in the face of goal, after he scored at Charlton Athletic last weekend.
On target in midweek for his first League goal of the campaign, Luke O’Nien continues to impress after signing a contract extension with Sunderland in the summer and reaffirming his ambitions to reach the Championship with the Club.
Boasting an eye for goal and forward-thinking passing, the midfielder will undoubtedly be pivotal to the Black Cats’ promotion bid this season.
Portsmouth’s midweek 2-1 defeat to Burton means they are now eight games without a win. Reeco Hackett-Fairchild halved the deficit for the visitors in the second-half but the winger’s strike was nothing more than a consolation for Pompey.
Nevertheless, Danny Cowley’s men will be hoping to get October off to a winning start, having taken just two points from five League games in September, including that hard-fought stalemate with Charlton last weekend, when Ronan Curtis opened the scoring with this stunning strike...
Conversely, they come up against a Sunderland side in an unstoppable vein of form at present. The Black Cats are unbeaten in six and riding high at the top of the table – three points clear of second placed Wigan Athletic.
Buoyed by an emphatic 5-0 win over Cheltenham Town on Tuesday, Johnson’s side will march on Fratton Park full of confidence with their promotion hopes very much continuing to build.
Keep up to date with live match updates from this weekend’s featured game by following @SkyBetLeagueOne on Twitter.