Ross demands positive mindset ahead of play-off clash with Portsmouth
The Black Cats take a 1-0 lead into the second leg of their semi-final with Pompey at Fratton Park.
Jack Ross has ordered Sunderland not to leave anything to chance by booking their place in the Sky Bet League One play-off final with a victory at Portsmouth.
The Black Cats head to Fratton Park on Thursday with a 1-0 semi-final first-leg lead knowing a draw will be enough to take them to Wembley for the second time this season.
However, Ross will send out his team with only one target on what promises to be a tense evening on the South Coast.
“We’ll go there to win the game because winning it gets us to Wembley. I don’t think as a team we need to go there and defend,” he told a press conference.
“We’re going to have to defend for periods of the game, like we would always but it’s about us going there to try to win the match on Thursday evening.”
Sunderland hold their advantage thanks to substitute Chris Maguire’s lone strike at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
Maguire, five appearances into his return from a fractured fibula suffered in February, stepped up to the plate in the fourth meeting between the sides this season to secure a first win for the Black Cats when they needed it most.
Ross said: “The ability to handle the occasion will be important for both sides on Thursday. The ability to be composed within the environment, and disciplined within it in different ways, will be vital as well.
“But equally, you need players who will thrive on the pressure that will be generated, and Chris has shown throughout his career that he is capable of producing big moments in big games.”
Saturday’s win was just Sunderland’s second in eight attempts, a run which ended their hopes of automatic promotion.
Kenny Jackett’s men have fared little better with no victory in their last four.
Jackett told the club’s official website, www.portsmouthfc.co.uk: “We’ve been limping along over the past few games, although we’ve put absolutely everything into them.
“Have we been at our absolute best in that time? No. Do we need to be on Thursday? Yes, we definitely do.
“It’s a fixture we have to win and we’ve got the home advantage, so we need to make the most of that.”