Luke O’Nien brushed off the incident after Sunderland’s win over Portsmouth (Picture: Sky Sports)Luke O’Nien has played down a shocking incident during Sunderland’s League One play-off semi-final win over Portsmouth in which he appeared to get punched and kicked by a rival fan at Fratton Park.
Chris Maguire’s sumptuous volley from the first leg at the Stadium of Light was enough to send Sunderland to Wembley after the match finished goalless on Thursday night.
In the 64th minute of the second leg, O’Nien toppled over the advertising hoardings after wrestling with Portsmouth defender Tom Naylor for the ball.
One Portsmouth supporter appeared to kick out at O’Nien as he struggled to get back to his feet and the Sunderland right-back showed admirable restraint not to react.
Players from both sides rushed in before referee Peter Bankes attempted to diffuse the situation.
Asked about the incident after Sunderland’s win, O’Nien told Sky Sports: ‘The bank falls so I went over the boarding and they had a few digs at me but that’s football. It’s fine.’
O’Nien and Naylor tumbled over the hoardings in the second halfShortly after the incident, three police officers were seen in the stands at Fratton Park near to where the Portsmouth fan in question was sitting.
Asked if the police had spoken to him regarding the incident, O’Nien replied: ‘Yeah, they asked if I wanted to press charges but that’s just football.
‘Listen, when the whistle goes it’s two teams going at it, two crowds going at it and that’s just part of it. So, yeah, no problem.
‘There was a little bit [of contact] but he didn’t hurt me or anything. I think he got arrested in the end, but he can have that one.
He latter added: ‘I’ve seen my little cousin hit harder than that, so not a problem with that.’
O’Nien’s side went through after a goalless draw at Fratton Park (Picture: Getty)Lee Cattermole has claimed that O’Nien was ‘punched in the back’ in addition to being kicked by the spectator.
‘He was punched in the back – I was very disappointed and very surprised that people think they can do that when they come to watch a game,’ the midfielder said.
‘Someone like Luke as well, he’s a fantastic lad. He doesn’t need or deserve that.
‘It was a tense atmosphere, I’ve played here a few times. It’s a great ground with a cracking support and it’s a shame sometimes one lets them down.’
Sunderland will face either Charlton or Doncaster for a place in the Championship and Black Cats boss Jack Ross fancies his side’s chances at Wembley.
‘There’s satisfaction in that we’ve answered a fair bit of criticism to get through this game,’ Ross said after the win.
‘The times we’ve played here this season, it’s been a proper atmosphere and a real test, so to come through it is very pleasing. But now my work comes about who we will face in the final and that work starts tomorrow.
‘We have another opportunity now to go to Wembley and achieve ultimately what we set out to do at the start of the season.
‘The fact that it’s at Wembley is an addition and the fact we’ve been there recently just takes that little bit of the occasion away from it and it just becomes a really important game for us.’
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