MX23RW : Wednesday, June 29 01:16:56| >> :120:23644:23644:
[monks data]
May 21, 2022 at 3pm UK at Wembley Stadium
Sunderland
2 - 0
Wycombe
Embleton (12'), Stewart (79')
Cirkin (46'), Pritchard (75')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Preview: Sunderland vs. Wycombe Wanderers - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's League One clash between Sunderland and Wycombe Wanderers, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Seeking to secure promotion to the Championship, Sunderland will lock horns with Wycombe Wanderers at Wembley Stadium in the League One playoff final on Saturday afternoon.

The Black Cats are looking to escape the third tier at the fourth time of asking, while the Chairboys will be looking to make an immediate return to the second tier following their relegation 12 months ago.


Match preview

Sunderland's Patrick Roberts celebrates scoring their first goal on May 9, 2022© Reuters

The appointment of Alex Neil in February has worked wonders for Sunderland, who head into the playoff final full of confidence and boasting an impressive run of form.

The 40-year-old boss suffered a 2-1 defeat at home against MK Dons in just his second game in charge, but the Black Cats have since put together a 15-game unbeaten run, including nine victories.

After finishing fifth in the League One table, Sunderland beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 on aggregate in the playoff semi-finals, with Patrick Roberts scoring a 93rd-minute winner in the second leg at Hillsborough to set up a showpiece event with Wycombe in the capital.

Sunderland fans will not want to be reminded of their poor record in the playoffs, which has seen them fail to secure promotion in each of their last seven attempts over the last 35 years.

They did, however, taste success the last time that they played at Wembley when they beat Tranmere Rovers 1-0 in the EFL Trophy final in March last year, their first triumph at the home of football in almost 50 years. The Black Cats celebrated their success behind closed doors on that occasion, but on Saturday they will have just over 46,000 supporters cheering them on against Wycombe.

Sunderland have won two and drawn one of their last three meetings with the Chairboys and have scored 10 goals in the process, so they should be confident of finding the net once again this weekend.

Wycombe Wanderers' Brandon Hanlan celebrates scoring their first goal on January 11, 2022© Reuters

While many may feel that Wycombe Wanderers are punching above their weight once again, they have reached this year's playoff final on merit and manager Gareth Ainsworth deserves all the plaudits that come his way.

The Chairboys secured the final playoff spot on the last day of the season with victory away at Burton Albion, before beating MK Dons 2-1 on aggregate in the semi-finals to book their place at Wembley for the second time in three years.

A slender 1-0 defeat to the Dons in the second leg brought an end to their 13-game unbeaten run, but nevertheless, Wycombe remain in high spirits and will use their recent triumph at Wembley to spur them on this weekend.

Wycombe, who beat Oxford United 2-1 in the 2019-20 final, could become the first team in League One playoff history to win the final twice within a three-year period.

Ainsworth and co know what it takes to win on the big stage, but they head into Saturday's contest having won only one of their six previous meetings against Sunderland, a narrow 1-0 win at Adams Park in October 2019.

Sunderland League One form:
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • D

Wycombe Wanderers League One form:
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L


Team News

Wycombe Wanderers' Adebayo Akinfenwa and Sam Vokes pictured on May 5, 2022© Reuters

Sunderland could have a clean bill of health for the final, as Neil has confirmed that versatile midfielder Carl Winchester has returned to first-team training and may feature at Wembley after recovering from a groin injury.

Aiden McGeady and Union Berlin loanee Leon Dajaku could also be available for selection; the former has been ruled out since November with knee ligament damage, while the latter has been kept out of first-team action since March due to illness.

Neil is set to stick with a 3-5-2 formation, with Bailey Wright, Danny Batth and Dennis Cirkin retaining their places at centre-back, while former Wycombe man Luke O'Nien is set to play alongside Cory Evans in centre-midfield.

Ross Stewart is expected to lead the line in attack and will be looking add to the 25 goals that he has scored this season, while Roberts and Nathan Broadhead will be pushing to start alongside him.

As for Wycombe, Anis Mehmeti, Jack Young and Nick Freeman have all taken part in training over the last few weeks, but it remains to be seen whether they are fit to feature this weekend having missed several games through injury.

A back four of Jason McCarthy, Anthony Stewart, Ryan Tafazolli and Joe Jacobson – which was selected for both legs of their playoff semi-final – is set to remain intact, shielding goalkeeper David Stockdale.

Former Sunderland man Josh Scowen is expected to partner Dominic Gape in centre-midfield, while Gareth McCleary and Jordan Obita could start again on the flanks.

Veteran striker Adebayo Akinfenwa will have his last dance at Wembley before hanging up his boots; the 40-year-old is unlikely to start ahead of 17-goal target man Sam Vokes, but he could make an impact off the bench.

Sunderland possible starting lineup:
Patterson; Wright, Batth, Cirkin; Gooch, Evans, O'Nien, Clarke; Roberts, Pritchard; Stewart

Wycombe Wanderers possible starting lineup:
Stockdale; McCarthy, Stewart, Tafazolli, Jacobson; Gape, Scowen; McCleary, Horgan, Obita; Vokes


SM words green background

We say: Sunderland 1-1 Wycombe Wanderers (Wycombe to win on penalties)

The two sides played out an entertaining 3-3 draw at Adams Park the last time that they met in January, but a tighter affair is expected at Wembley, one which could even go the distance.

Although Sunderland will head into the final as the favourites and will have over half the stadium filled with supporters travelling down from the North-East, we can see Wycombe managing the game well, frustrating their opponents and securing promotion to the Championship on penalties.


For additional data used by our team to analyse our suggested result please click here.


Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 2.5:data

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How you voted: Sunderlvs vs Wycombe

Sunderland
66.1%
Draw
13.0%
Wycombe Wanderers
20.9%
115
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Sunderland's Patrick Roberts celebrates scoring their first goal on May 9, 2022
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Late Roberts goal puts Sunderland in League One playoff final
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