Sunderland v Luton: Championship playoff semi-final, first leg – live | Championship
At least one of these teams will be playing Southampton next season, because the Saints’ relegation has been confirmed by a limp 0-2 home defeat by Fulham:
And it’s finished Bolton 1-1 Barnsley.
In other playoff news, the League One semi between Bolton and Barnsley is currently 1-1 with three minutes remaining in Lancashire, Bolton’s Dion Charles cancelling out Nicky Cadden’s opener. And Chesterfield still lead Notts County 1-0 in the National League final at Wembley. Follow it below:
The teams are in
Sunderland: Patterson; Gooch, Hume, O’Nien, Pritchard, Neil,
Ekwah, Roberts, Diallo, Clarke, Gelhardt. Subs: Huggins, Bass,
Ba, Taylor, Lihadji, Michut, Anderson.
Luton: Horvath; Osho, Bell, Lockyer, Drameh, Mpanzu, Nakamba,
Clark, Doughty, Adebayo, Morris. Subs: Shea, Potts, Berry,
Burke, Campbell, Onyedinma, Freeman.
Referee: Tim Robinson (West Sussex)
Afternoon everyone, with one of the most captivating chapters of the season under way – as long as you’re not a fan of any of the teams involved. Yes, the playoffs are upon us – a thrilling holiday in other people’s stress. But we have two upbeat, upwardly mobile sides before us at the Stadium of Light this evening, each of whom are no strangers to playoffs, having competed in them last season.
Luton arrive in the North-east on the back of a 14-match unbeaten run and, though they never really looked likely to crack the top two this term, have punched magnificently above their weight once again – testament to what progressive ownership and enlightened management can deliver. And if Hatters fans want omens, ending a second-tier campaign with 14 unbeaten games is precisely what they did in 1982, when they were last promoted to the top flight.
They also have a manager, Rob Edwards. who knows how to win promotion, having done so with Forest Green in League Two last year before jumping ship to Watford, who swiftly binned him off because, you know, Watford. But the mid-table Hornets’ loss has very much been Luton’s gain.
Town, who had the second-best defence in the Championship over the regular season, are expected to be without their striker Cauley Woodrow with a knee problem for the two legs against Sunderland, whose injury problems dwarf those of their opponents. Tony Mowbray’s side have had to do without their talismanic forward Ross Stewart since January, but have responded by sharing the goals around amid a crisp attacking style.
The Manchester United loanee Amad Diallo has attracted the most attention, deservedly, but the likes of Pierre Ekwah, Jack Clarke, Patrick Roberts and Alex Pritchard have also excelled. (And having spent my own season watching a team without a target man canter to the League Two title, it’s not all about the Big Lad Up Top in the EFL this term). Mowbray too is one of the game’s slightly undervalued and all-round decent managers, and he’s done a fine job giving Sunderland a chance of a second successive promotion.
This should be good. Kick-off 5.30pm BST.