Charlton take on Sunderland in the Sky Bet League One play-off final and Tom Carnduff thinks more than 90 minutes will be required.
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Charlton v Sunderland (Wembley Stadium, 1500 BST, Sky Sports Main Event)
Two sides who have had tough recent history meet with one looking for a return to the Sky Bet Championship.
A lot has been made of Charlton and Sunderland’s fortunes in the past, particularly the latter with all to see on on-demand TV.
Sunderland are the favourites here, with many expecting them to make bounce straight back into England’s second-tier, but the value lies with Charlton emerging victorious.
Lee Bowyer has managed to keep the Addicks at the top end of the division throughout the course of his managerial career - guiding them to the play-offs last year which ended in a semi-final defeat against Shrewsbury.
They'll be better for the experience though and have kicked on with some decent recruitment. The headline addition has been Lyle Taylor, who has established himself as one of the division's top strikers during his season at the club.
Taylor looks good value at a price of 7/4 to net anytime in this game given his record throughout the season.
My main concern for Charlton was whether or not they had the ability to kick on above that top-six finish. They had the feel of a side who could make the play-offs but don't quite have enough to get over the line.
However, their efforts in the second half of the season have done more than enough to sway that opinion. Not only in the manner of finishing in third, but the fact that they have consistently picked up results in run-up to the conclusion of the regular season.
That’s even after that second-leg tie against Doncaster, where an easy home tie ended in defeat on the night. Luckily, they came out on top on penalties.
They may have to require a similar fate here too with little separating the two sides. Both have talent throughout the squad and players who have shown already that they can handle the big occasion.
Some say that the Black Cats hold the advantage given their appearance in the Checkatrade Trophy final. That ended in defeat, but Jack Ross was eager to point out that the experience was key that day rather than the outcome.
It really is a cliché ‘too close to call’ game and 90 minutes will likely not be enough to separate the teams.
This final is the one to sit on the fence on and take the draw at 9/4 when it comes to the outright markets. It’s great for the neutral, agonising for the supporters, but penalties looks like the outcome needed here.
Josh Parker can also be backed at 3/1 to score anytime in 90 minutes in this game and while he is still waiting for his first goal for the club, it feels like the time is now on the best stage of them all.
The forward joined in January from Gillingham. Taylor has, rightly, grabbed the headlines, but he seems to link-up well as a strike partnership with Parker.
His work rate is excellent and he creates play in the way a typical centre forward does. Bowyer has shown faith in him by playing him at the end of the season, and he came close to repaying that with goals in the semi-final.
Parker is getting there, and I’m convinced enough from what I saw over two legs against Doncaster that he can find the net here.
Score prediction: Charlton 1-1 Sunderland (Sky Bet odds: 5/1)
Best bet: Josh Parker to score anytime at 3/1
- Charlton have reached a Football League play-off final for a third time, with this their first since they also met Sunderland in the 1998 second tier final, which Charlton won on penalties at Wembley (also 1987 v Leeds, with the Addicks winning after a replay).
- Sunderland have reached their third play-off final in what is their fifth such campaign, though this is their first final in the third tier. The Black Cats failed to to win either of previous play-off finals (0-1 v Swindon in 1990) and (4-4 (6-7p) v Charlton in 1998), though they did gain promotion in 1990 when Swindon were later demoted.
- Charlton have lost just one of their last eight meetings with Sunderland in all competitions (W3 D4), with that defeat coming on the opening day of this season’s League One, a 1-2 loss at the Stadium of Light.
- Both teams have found the net in eight of the last nine contests between Charlton and Sunderland in all competitions; the only exception was a 2-0 win for Charlton in the 2005-06 Premier League season.
- Charlton are visiting Wembley for a fifth time, and the first since their penalty shootout win over Sunderland in the 1998 second tier play-off final. The Addicks have lost two of their previous four visits to the ground (W1 D1).
- Amongst all club sides, only Newcastle United (eight) are currently on a longer winless run in matches played at Wembley than Sunderland, who have drawn two and lost four of their last six such games.
- Sunderland have already appeared at Wembley once this season, drawing 2-2 with Portsmouth in the Football League Trophy final before losing on penalties – the Black Cats have never previously appeared at Wembley twice in the same campaign.
- This side finishing in third position in League One (Charlton this season) has been eliminated from five of the last eight play-off finals in the competition, including Shrewsbury last term, who lost to Rotherham United after extra time.
- In the third tier, the side finishing fifth in the league (Sunderland this season) has not gained promotion via the play-offs since Barnsley in 2005-06, who beat Swansea on penalties following a 2-2 draw at the Millennium Stadium.
- Including play-offs, Charlton’s Lyle Taylor has been directly involved in 32 goals in League One this season (22 goals, 10 assists), more than any other player.
- Aiden McGeady, who scored a brace for Sunderland at Wembley this season in the EFL Trophy final against Portsmouth, has been directly involved in 20 goals across all competitions in 2018-19 (14 goals, 6 assists), the most of any Black Cats player.
Odds correct at 1800 BST (23/05/19)