Portsmouth first-team coach Paul Groves hailed his side's spirit as the cash-strapped club defeated Sunderland 2-1 to reach the FA Cup fifth round.

The Black Cats bagged an early advantage thanks to Darren Bent's strike after 15 minutes. But Nigerian midfielder John Utaka turned things around with a header three minutes before the break and a stunning finish from Younes Kaboul's through-ball after 58 minutes.

He said: "It was fantastic spirit from the players. What they showed on that pitch was great togetherness and they came away with a great result and good reward for it."

The action took place on the back of vociferous protests against Pompey's owners from hundreds of home supporters outside the directors' entrance prior to kick-off.

Deafening chants of "we want our club back" and "sack the board" rang throughout the ground as the club struggles to pay its players, continues to fight a transfer embargo and faces a winding-up petition from HM Revenue and Customs next month.

Boss Avram Grant clearly shares the fans' frustrations. After cancelling Friday's pre-match press conference, he also sat out the post-match interviews to avoid another string of questions about Pompey's off-the-field issues.

His place was taken by Groves and the coach paid tribute to his side's ability to put their team's financial woes to one side.

Groves added: "I also have to give credit to the fans for the way they got behind us.

"They showed their frustrations, no doubt, but once they came into the stadium, they got behind the players.

"I think the players focused on the game in hand. It's a difficult task to play Sunderland, but they were well-focused on making sure they got a good result and a good performance."

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