Sunderland are now in their fourth season as a League One side since their relegation from the Championship in 2018, but they are once again looking to return to the second tier. The Black Cats have finished in the play-off places in three of their four League One campaigns (including 2021/22), but have failed to achieve promotion so far, losing to Charlton in the 2018/19 final and being beaten by Lincoln in last year’s semi-finals.
They’ve left themselves in a strong position this time, though, after a Ross Stewart goal just before half-time delivered a 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday in Friday’s first leg. Given their dominance in the match, Sunderland perhaps should be taking an even strong lead to Hillsborough, but a 1-0 advantage is better than no advantage.
The advantage of playing the second leg at home is purely an atmospheric one, with away goals not counting, but it’s one that Sheffield Wednesday will be hoping gets them over the line. The Owls had the best home record in the whole of League One during the regular season, and they’ll be confident of overturning a one-goal deficit — especially as they beat Sunderland 3-0 at home earlier in the campaign.
Sheffield Wednesday were only relegated from the Championship last season, dropping to the third tier of English football for the first time since 2011/12 but things are looking good for a return. Fans weren’t too sure about what to expect from Darren Moore’s side this season but they performed extremely well across the campaign, with only title winners Wigan Athletic losing fewer games than their nine. However, that alone wasn’t enough to secure automatic promotion, with Sheffield Wednesday finishing five points behind second-placed Rotherham.
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Sheffield Wednesday vs Sunderland match stats
Ross Stewart joined Sunderland at the start of 2021 and had a slow start, scoring just three times in his first half-season, but he has settled in this year. Stewart scored 24 goals in 46 games during the regular League One campaign, with only Wigan’s Will Keane (26) managing more. What’s more, it was Stewart who gave Sunderland a precious lead in the first leg with his fourth goal against Sheffield Wednesday this season following a hat-trick in a 5-0 win back in December. Only Scottish side Arbroath (5) have felt his wrath more than the Owls across Stewart’s career so far.
Sometimes you need more than goals to win games, however, and Sheffield Wednesday will want their players to have fight to take the game to Sunderland in front of their own fans. And Sam Hutchinson is fight personified. Despite playing just 28 games in League One during the regular season, Hutchinsonreceived 10 yellow cards, at an average of 0.38 per 90 minutes. Interestingly, he limited himself to one foul during the first leg, but that may change as Wednesday start chasing the game.
06 May 2022 – Sunderland 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday – League One playoffs semi-final first leg
30 December 2021 – Sunderland 5-0 Sheffield Wednesday – League One
2 November 2021 – Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 Sunderland – League One
16 August 2018 – Sunderland 0-2 Sheffield Wednesday – EFL Cup
2 April 2018 – Sunderland 1-3 Sheffield Wednesday – Championship
These two sides shared wins in the regular League One campaign, with both claiming emphatic victories on home soil. Sunderland weren’t able to match their earlier 5-0 scoreline, but if Sheffield Wednesday can repeat their 3-0 victory at Hillsborough from November, that’ll be enough to get them to Wembley.