Both of Pompey’s play-off contests with Sunderland were tight and often scrappy affairs.
A fine strike from former Fratton loanee Chris Maguire at the Stadium of Light proved the difference between the teams.
There were chances to secure a different outcome back on the south coast, with Gareth Evans, Oli Hawkins and James Vaughan all denied by fine saves.
Matt Clarke also struck the woodwork, as the Black Cats held on for a draw that sent them back to Wembley.
Kenny Jackett admitted that his side were not threatening enough after the break, although there are certainly positives for him to take from the season.
The Blues boss said: “There were some big saves from McLaughlin in the Sunderland goal, while Clarke has hit the crossbar.
“They were key moments in what was a very tight game – and a tight 180 minutes across the whole tie.
"It does hurt, although I’m proud of the players and we’ll have a break, then look to come back stronger next year."
“Maguire has ultimately provided the moment of quality that’s settled things and got Sunderland to Wembley.
“We built up a good head of steam in the first half, but there were only isolated incidents after the break.
“You’re looking for one of them to go your way in order to lift the crowd and be able to build some momentum.
“It does hurt, although I’m proud of the players and we’ll have a break, then look to come back stronger next year.
“We got 88 points, reached the play-offs, won a trophy and had a good run in the FA Cup – now we need to regroup and go again.”
Jackett decided to drop Ronan Curtis and Jamal Lowe to the bench, although the latter did come on during the second half.
He explained: “It’s been a tough few weeks for both of them and we’ve rather limped over the line with recent performances.
“As dangerous as they’ve been throughout the season, I just felt they were struggling for energy recently.”