Charlton vs Sunderland: Sky Bet League One play-off final preview
Watch the Sky Bet League One play-off final between Charlton and Sunderland live on Sky Sports Football from 2.30pm on Sunday; Kick-off at 3pm
Last Updated: 26/05/19 3:23pm
Charlton and Sunderland meet at Wembley as they battle for promotion to the Sky Bet Championship, 21 years on from arguably the greatest play-off final ever.
Back in 1998, they met at the old Wembley to fight for a spot in the Premier League, and it was Charlton who prevailed 7-6 on penalties after a 4-4 draw. This time, however, they find themselves targeting a return to the second tier.
For Sunderland, it would be an immediate response as they look to avoid a second season in League One. Charlton, meanwhile, have been at this level since 2016. They reached the play-offs last year but have already gone one better by reaching the final.
Charlton boss Lee Bowyer named the same XI in the two semi-final legs against Doncaster and could do the same again at Wembley. He could also opt for experience in midfield with either Darren Pratley or Jonny Williams coming in for Albie Morgan.
Aiden McGeady is in contention to return from injury to play for Sunderland at Wembley. The winger has missed their last four games, including both play-off semi-finals, with a foot injury he sustained against Accrington in early April. Aside from that, manager Jack Ross has unchanged options from their victory over Portsmouth.
Charlotte vs Sunderland: Another 1998?
Charlton and Sunderland meet in the Sky Bet League One play-off final on Sunday, almost 21 years to the day since their famous 1998 Wembley encounter.
Charlton boss Lee Bowyer: "It is going to be a proud day. To lead this group of players out, a unique set of players, with our fans signing their hearts out, it is going to be a very emotional time for me.
"What we have achieved is massive. No one tipped us to be in the top six and now we are going to Wembley and have just filled The Valley.
"Sunderland go into it as favourites because we have not beat them this season. But I know we will turn up and create chances, and if we take our chances then we have a good chance of winning."
Sunderland boss Jack Ross: "The last couple of weeks have been really enjoyable. I think [the players] have responded terrifically well. They have been quite calm and focused. I don't know whether it is because we have been at Wembley already this season.
"This week I have not sensed anything different about them. They are in a good place but not any extra excitement. Just really focused on trying to win the game this weekend.
"It is very unusual to go back to Wembley in such a short space of time. The memory of what it was like to walk out in the stadium with that size of crowd is fresh for everyone that was involved. They know how much it can affect you if you don't control the emotions in the right way so it will stand us in good stead."
League One play-off final memories
We take a look back at some of the most memorable moments from the League One play-off finals in years gone by...
- 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 vs 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) vs 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.
- Amongst all club sides, only Newcastle (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.
- 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 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.
The Key Battle - Lyle Taylor vs Jon McLaughlin
There were question marks over whether Charlton would be able to cope with the mid-season departure of Karlan Grant. The striker had formed a lethal partnership with Lyle Taylor and the consensus was his absence would be keenly felt at The Valley.
But Taylor stepped up his game even further in his absence, and has arguably been the best player in League One in 2019. He opened the scoring for Charlton in the first leg against Doncaster, and then his cross forced the opening for the all-important goal to level the tie in extra time in the second leg.
Standing in his way in the Sunderland goal will be Jon McLaughlin, who impressed against Portsmouth in the semi-finals at both the Stadium of Light and Fratton Park, keeping a clean sheet on both occasions.
He will have to show that type of form again to deny Taylor, who has pedigree in play-off finals, scoring the goal that sent AFC Wimbledon on their way to promotion from League Two in 2016.
Fans' view - what would victory mean?
Peter Daniel, Charlton fan
"It is no exaggeration to say this is one of the most important games in our history. Bowyer has created an incredible bond between players and fans and this has driven us to Wembley. If we win it will be a key factor. A defeat on Sunday and he will bring everything crashing to the ground."
Sobsy, Sunderland fan of A Love Supreme
"Victory would mean revenge for the play-off final defeat to Charlton 21 years ago. Promotion will justify the new owners taking the club over and employing Jack Ross - taking us us from potential oblivion to being a living, breathing football team. We will win because we have McLaughlin, McGeady, and Chris Maguire."
Charlton had a bit of a wobble against Doncaster towards the end, but that is only natural in a game of that magnitude and they still showed incredible resolve to get through it on penalties.
Other than that they have been superb in 2019 and are the form side heading into the final and have players like Lyle Taylor who will be able to handle the occasion. He scored a big goal for AFC Wimbledon in a play-off final not too long ago to get the promoted.
The expectation is on Jack Ross and Sunderland, who will want a bit of glory for themselves and to end this season's documentary with! They didn't end the season in particularly good form but did a terrific job to shut down Portsmouth over two legs. They know how to do the ugly side of the game well, and we could see a bit more of that at Wembley on Sunday.
All the talk in the build-up to this one will be of the 1998 Division One play-off final, which was one of the great games staged at the old Wembley. I didn't think we will see eight goals here, but I could easily go all the way again to penalties. And if it does I would fancy Charlton to repeat the same job they did 21 years ago.
David Prutton predicts: Charlton to win on penalties (10/1 with Sky Bet)
All the ways to watch the play-off finals...
All three play-off finals will be live on Sky Sports Football.
Sky Sports subscribers can also stream games via the Sky Sports app or the Sky Go app.
- Watch on Sky Sports
- Create a Sky iD to watch highlights on the Sky Sports app and skysports.com
- Watch on NOW TV for £8.99
Non-subscribers can watch through NOW TV. A Sky Sports day pass is available for £8.99, a week pass for £14.99 or a month pass for £33.99. NOW TV can be streamed through a computer or apps.
If you can't watch live then you can also follow the action with our live blogs on skysports.com and the Sky Sports app, with in-game clips and highlights throughout the match.