Sunderland came from a goal down to beat Charlton 2-1 on the opening day of the season
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Sunderland manager Jack Ross hopes his side’s experience of Wembley can give them the edge over Charlton Athletic in the League One play-off final.

The Black Cats return to the national stadium having lost to Portsmouth on penalties in the Checkatrade Trophy final less than two months ago.

“It’ll certainly have more familiarity about it which I’m sure will only help everybody,” Ross told BBC Newcastle.

“It’s not just another game, but it does have that feeling about it.”

Having been in the Premier League just two years ago, the Black Cats were pre-season favourites to win the League One title despite major upheaval in the squad and ownership.

But 19 draws in their 46 league games contributed to them ending the season in fifth place, six points off the automatic promotion places.

“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,” added 42-year-old Ross, who succeeded Chris Coleman exactly a year ago on Saturday.

“You balance that up with a lot of the things we’ve dealt with over the past 12 months, where we are now as a club and there’s been a lot of things we’ve done well and we’ve improved upon, but ultimately for me right now it’s about achieving promotion to be seen as having a successful season.”

It is 21 years since Clive Mendonca’s hat-trick helped Charlton draw 4-4 with Sunderland in the First Division play-off final before the Addicks won promotion on penalties

Charlton have also had their off-field problems, with owner Roland Duchatelet still proving unpopular with supporters and keen to sell the south-east London club.

Manager Lee Bowyer was put in caretaker charge last March but was not made permanent boss until September.

Despite that the former Leeds United, West Ham and Newcastle player says the togetherness within his playing squad has ensured outside influences have not affected performances.

“As individuals you don’t win, and that’s what I’ve tried to build,” the 42-year-old said.

“I played in a similar side when I was at Leeds, and the reason that we did so well is because we were a team, that’s all I’ve tried to do here.

“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.”

Team news

Sunderland could have Republic of Ireland midfielder Aiden McGeady available for selection.

The experienced former Celtic and Everton player missed both legs of the semi-final against Portsmouth after being injured in the warm-up for the first game.

Bowyer expects to pick from the same Charlton squad that defeated Doncaster Rovers on penalties last Friday.

Igor Vetokele is the only injury major doubt, with the Angola striker still nursing the thigh injury that has sidelined him for the past month.

Match facts

  • 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 (6-7 pens) 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.



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