Charlton and Sunderland clash in hunt for Championship place


Charlton and Sunderland square off at Wembley in the League One play-off final on Sunday with the chance for promotion to the Championship.

It’s third against fifth in the hunt for promotion to the second-tier of English football as two former Premier League sides battle at Wembley.

The two league fixture between the teams both finished very tight, Sunderland claiming a home win on the opening day 2-1 before a 1-1 draw at the Valley in January.

That opening day defeat is Charlton’s only loss against Sunderland in their last eight meetings but their positions in the table doesn’t bode well for either team if history is anything to go by.

The team finishing third has lost five of the last eight League One play-off finals whilst a team finishing third in League One have not gained promotion since Swansea in 2005/06.

Many neutrals will hope for a repeat of the 1998 play-off final between these two, which many tout as the greatest play-off final ever, in which Charlton striker Clive Mendonca scored a hat-trick in a 4-4 draw which had to be decided by penalties.

Black Cats boss Jack Ross’ expectations were clear for the pre-season favourites for the League One title:

“I was clear in my ambition to get the club back to the Championship at the first time of asking and also my ambition to manage in the Championship within a season.”

Sunderland do not hold the best of records at Wembley however, only rivals Newcastle United having a worse record than Sunderland’s winless run of six games at the national stadium.

Their most recent visit, which came in this season’s Checkatrade Trophy, ultimately ended in defeat to Portsmouth on penalties after a 2-2 draw. Sunderland did get their revenge however, beating Pompey 1-0 over two legs to reach the play-off final.

42-year-old Ross will be hopeful of former Republic of Ireland international Aiden McGeady’s fitness going into Sunday’s final, the 33-year-old contributing to 20 goals across all competitions this season.

Charlton boss, Lee Bowyer was full of praise for his team, who despite off-the-field issues surround ownership at the club finished one place outside the automatic promotion places.

“The group that we’ve put together is an exceptional group, it’s a unique group. What they do week in, week out for me is great to watch.”

One member of that group who has been influential to the Addicks reaching the final is their striker Lyle Taylor. A free transfer last summer upon the expiration of his contract at AFC Wimbledon, the Montserratian international has been involved in 32 league goals, more than any other player.

Bowyer has no fresh injury concerns with Igor Vetokele (thigh) the only absence.

These teams will be well aware of each others quality and with almost a full house expected at Wembley, this play-off final has all the ingredients to match the teams’ famous match-up in 1998.


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