Wembley awaits for whoever can come out on top between Sunderland and Portsmouth in the League One play-off semi-final on Thursday night, and it’s a tie that’s so finely poised heading into the Fratton Park clash. Chris Maguire volleyed home the only goal of the tie at the Stadium of Light, although in two days time, Jimmy Dunne could be the star.
The young Burnley loanee is the man who Jack Ross turned to when Alim Ozturk was harshly dismissed in the first leg for his challenge on Gareth Evans. The Pompey man was through on goal, but with his first touch taking the ball away from goal Sunderland were able to successfully appeal the dismissal and now are able to field the Turkish defender’s ban.
Regardless of his ban being overturned, Ozturk should be on the bench for the second leg. Jimmy Dunne was more than impressive when he came off the bench for the final 20 minutes at the Stadium of Light. He stood up well to the Portsmouth pressure and did enough to keep the margin at 1-0, something that the Mackems will be delighted to have between themselves and Pompey from the start on Thursday.
All that Jack Ross needs to do is put faith in his young central defender, who is rated at £270k by Transfermarkt. The chances are Dunne won’t be at Sunderland next season as he’ll be in and around the Burnley squad or out on loan at a higher level of football than in League One, so the Black Cats need to make his time with them count, and that means playing him in the high-pressure games where it matters.
When Dunne has featured this season the 21-year-old has been solid and the Mackems will need solid when they travel the length of the country in their biggest game of the season so far at Fratton Park. Kenny Jackett’s Pompey will be after an early goal to level the tie, and Dunne has the credentials to stand up to what Portsmouth will throw at him, with the hope that those in front of him can nick something at the other end.
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