Sunderland moved a step closer to an immediate return to the Championship as they saw off Portsmouth to reach the League One play-off final.

After a goalless and fractious second leg, Chris Maguire’s volley from the first leg at the Stadium of Light was enough to get them to .

It was revenge for the Black Cats, who lost the final on penalties to the same opposition in March.

Two fine saves by Jon McLaughlin in either half from Gareth Evans and James Vaughan headers, and Matt Clarke nodding a corner on to the crossbar, were the closest Pompey came to drawing level on aggregate.

Sunderland will face either Charlton Athletic or Doncaster Rovers in the final on Sunday, 26 May, with the Addicks holding a 2-1 lead going into Friday’s second leg.

Portsmouth are still to win a play-off match in six attempts and will remain in League One for a third successive season.

A tempestuous and scrappy game failed to live up to the hype and followed a similar pattern to the first leg in terms of a lack of chances at either end.

There was ill-discipline throughout on a night when referee Peter Bankes showed six yellow cards.

At one stage, frustrations among the capacity crowd threatened to spill on to the pitch when Sunderland full-back Luke O’Nien accidentally landed in the front rows of touchline seating when trying to keep the ball in play and then had to be dragged away by team-mates from a spectator.

O’Nien did not let the incident distract him and, as Portsmouth’s frustrations at a lack of penetration grew in the closing stages, Sunderland were more than comfortable holding on to their 1-0 aggregate lead.

Manager Jack Ross has now taken the Mackems to twice in his first season in charge and knows one more win would provide a happy ending to another turbulent campaign off the pitch with uncertainty surrounding the future ownership of the club.

Hope and despair in equal measure

While one club has a big day at to look forward to in Sunderland, the other in Portsmouth will be left contemplating what might have been.

Many pundits had both sides down as automatic promotion favourites at the start of the season, but their lack of respective consistency ultimately left them behind Luton Town and Barnsley.

Promotion for Sunderland would end a sorry two years in the club’s history after back-to-back relegations from the and Championship.

Portsmouth remain ambitious and determined to continue their climb back up the divisions, but a failure once again to win a play-off tie will be a frustration.

Automatic promotion was in their own hands in the closing stages of the season, but the play-offs may well have represented two games too many for Kenny Jackett’s side.

Line-ups

Portsmouth

  • 15MacGillivray
  • 20Thompson
  • 6Burgess
  • 5Clarke
  • 3Brown
  • 7NaylorBooked at 11mins
  • 33Close
  • 19Solomon-OtaborSubstituted forLoweat 53′minutes
  • 8PitmanBooked at 45mins
  • 26EvansBooked at 4mins
  • 9HawkinsSubstituted forVaughanat 68′minutesBooked at 79mins

Substitutes

  • 2Walkes
  • 10Lowe
  • 11Curtis
  • 18Dennis
  • 24Morris
  • 32Vaughan
  • 35Bass

Sunderland

  • 1McLaughlin
  • 13O’NienBooked at 75mins
  • 5Ozturk
  • 12Flanagan
  • 3Oviedo
  • 27PowerSubstituted forMorganat 80′minutes
  • 6Cattermole
  • 23Leadbitter
  • 10Honeyman
  • 9WykeSubstituted forGriggat 83′minutes
  • 7MaguireBooked at 21minsSubstituted forGoochat 69′minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Matthews
  • 11Gooch
  • 14Watmore
  • 17Morgan
  • 22Grigg
  • 25Ruiter
  • 30Dunne
Referee:
Peter Bankes
Attendance:
18,077

Match Stats

Home TeamPortsmouthAway TeamSunderland
Possession
Home50%
Away50%
Shots
Home13
Away5
Shots on Target
Home4
Away1
Corners
Home4
Away7
Fouls
Home15
Away19

Live Text

Match ends, Portsmouth 0, Sunderland 0.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Portsmouth 0, Sunderland 0.

Attempt saved. Brett Pitman (Portsmouth) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Christian Burgess.

Foul by Lynden Gooch (Sunderland).

Jamal Lowe (Portsmouth) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Jamal Lowe.

Lynden Gooch (Sunderland) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Jamal Lowe (Portsmouth).

George Honeyman (Sunderland) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Nathan Thompson (Portsmouth).

Foul by Bryan Oviedo (Sunderland).

Brett Pitman (Portsmouth) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Bryan Oviedo (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by James Vaughan (Portsmouth).

Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Jamal Lowe.

Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Lee Brown.

Luke O’Nien (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by James Vaughan (Portsmouth).

Attempt blocked. Brett Pitman (Portsmouth) header from the centre of the box is blocked.

Substitution

Substitution, Sunderland. William Grigg replaces Charlie Wyke.

Substitution

Substitution, Sunderland. Le Morgan replaces Max Power.

Booking

James Vaughan (Portsmouth) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Max Power (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by James Vaughan (Portsmouth).

Foul by Luke O’Nien (Sunderland).

James Vaughan (Portsmouth) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Grant Leadbitter (Sunderland).

James Vaughan (Portsmouth) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Booking

Luke O’Nien (Sunderland) is shown the yellow card.

Corner, Portsmouth. Conceded by Alim Ozturk.

James Vaughan (Portsmouth) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Tom Flanagan (Sunderland).

Foul by Brett Pitman (Portsmouth).

Bryan Oviedo (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt saved. James Vaughan (Portsmouth) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Brett Pitman.

Substitution

Substitution, Sunderland. Lynden Gooch replaces Chris Maguire.

Substitution

Substitution, Portsmouth. James Vaughan replaces Oliver Hawkins.

Gareth Evans (Portsmouth) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Lee Cattermole (Sunderland).

Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Christian Burgess.