Ex-Sunderland striker delivers play-off verdict ahead of Portsmouth clash

Ex-Sunderland striker Don Goodman is expecting another close encounter when Sunderland meet Portsmouth in the second leg of their League One play-off semi-final.
Don Goodman played over 100 games for Sunderland.Don Goodman played over 100 games for Sunderland.
Don Goodman played over 100 games for Sunderland.

The two sides will meet for a fifth time this season when they clash at Fratton Park on Thursday night, with a place at Wembley up for grabs.

And Goodman, who now works as an EFL pundit for Sky Sports, is expecting another tight affair on the south coast, with both sides familiar with one another

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When looking back on Saturday's first leg, Goodman told the EFL podcast: "After the first 20 or 25 minutes I felt it was either going to be a set-piece or a moment of magic and it was the latter.

"Again down at Fratton Park you'd expect it to be something similar because they are so evenly matched.

"Every time you play a team you learn about that team and learn even more about their strengths and possibly about their weaknesses, but there aren't too many weaknesses in either of these teams so it's more about how do you nullify their strengths.

"What we saw the other evening is an example of two teams that know each other incredibly well that have learned how to nullify each others' strengths.

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"Can either manager come up with something slightly different to surprise the opposition? I'm not so sure quite frankly."

Despite Sunderland holding a 1-0 lead, courtesy of Chris Maguire's stunning strike, Goodman believes both managers will be satisfied with the scoreline from the first leg.

But if Sunderland can avoid conceding an early equaliser, Goodman thinks the Black Cats can pose a threat on the counter attack.

"The longer the game goes on the more pressure there will be, the more edginess will come into it," added Goodman.

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"Sunderland will still have a lead so you can expect them (Portsmouth) to throw the kitchen sink at them but in doing that they could leave themselves a little bit vulnerable to a counter attack.

"It is very, very tight and if you'd have probably asked both managers pre-kick-off in the first leg if they'd accept it, that 1-0 scoreline, they'd probably both have said it's not the perfect scoreline but we'll take it."