Checkatrade Champs 2018/19

Portsmouth AET+P (2-2) Sunderland

By Matt Eustace

Checkatrade Trophy Champions 2018/19
Photo Credit: Dave Taylor

It took penalties to settle the Checkatrade final last weekend after a 2-2 deadlock after extra time. Hawkins sealed the title after a strong hand from MacGillivray denied Cattermole earlier in the shootout.

The lads were poor in the first half with Sunderland and Aidan McGeady notably running the game. The irishman’s work paid of in the 33rd as a well taken free kick beat MacGillivray to put the black cats ahead. The pressure continued late into the first half and and going in Sunderland were surely disappointed to only be one to the good.

The second half started and the blues were looking much more positive, bringing Lowe into the game and having a much more stable backline with Clarke and Burgess holding their own against Sunderland’s attacking force. The blue side of Wembley erupted as Pitman caught a ball sweetly only for it to strike the post and come back out. Jackets team talk seemed to of worked wonders with the boys defending and then driving forward with strong counters. The score was levelled in the 82nd as Thomson scored his first goal for the club and what a place to do it. A neatly placed cross from substitute Evans allowed Thomson to head home and convert less than 10 minutes from time. A tired looking Sunderland seemed to shut up shop as the pendulum swung to the blue side of Wembley. The Pompey subs started running the games with Hawkins breaking through providing another good chance which was skied only a few minutes before time. The fourth official indicated four nailbiting minutes with the ball going end to end with strong defensive displays from both sides and counters to follow. The ref blew up after a strong 2nd half from the blues but after the first half, no one was under any illusion about what the Black Cats could do when they found their Rhythm.

Thankfully the 1st half of extra time seemed like a continuation with Pompey continuing to match Sunderland in every third, Jamal Lowe proving really tricky to deal with for the Sunderland back line. 15 minutes in the boys in blue got their reward, a stunning lobbed finish from Lowe made it 2-1 and took the Fratton Faithful one step closer to champion status. Unfortunately, Sunderland werent done, it’d been an even game and they weren’t willing to let up and accept defeat at this late stage, they threw boys forward and a minute from time McGeady again showed his class levelling it sending the game to penalties.

Penalties are never a nice occasion for keepers, takers or supporters but this time Pompey stepped up. Both sides were shooting towards the blue end of Wembley and this surely played a part in Pompey burying all of their 5 penos. A good save from MacGillivray earlier in the shoot out denied veteran Lee Cattermole and this allowed former non-league man Oliver Hawkins to strike hard and well to finish the shootout bringing home the silverware for the blues.