The 2019 Sky Bet League One Play-Off Final has arrived, and what game we have in store! Who will #StepUp?
SETTING THE SCENE
Charlton Athletic and Sunderland are set to battle it out for promotion to the Sky Bet Championship via the Play-Off Final at Wembley Stadium on Sunday 26th May (kick-off 3pm).
After relegation from the Championship last season, Sunderland will be hoping for an immediate return to the second tier of English football, on their second trip to the National Stadium this season.
The Addicks have spent the last three seasons in League One after suffering the dreaded drop at the end of the 2015/16 campaign. Manager Lee Bowyer has turned the club around since his arrival at The Valley, leading his side to the Play-Off Semi-Final and Final in two consecutive seasons.
As mentioned, this will be the second time that the Black Cats will have been to Wembley this season, after their Checkatrade Final penalty shoot-out defeat to Portsmouth. But it was Jack Ross’ side who had the last laugh down on the south coast as they got their revenge and dispatched Pompey over two legs in their Play-Off Semi-Final.
Charlton had to overcome a valiant Doncaster Rovers side to reach the Final. After Bowyer's men secured a 2-1 lead in the first leg in Yorkshire, Rovers battled back to win 2-1 in normal time at The Valley to force the tie to extra-time. And, after a frantic 30 minutes and a further goal apiece, a penalty shoot-out ensued, which the Addicks eventually won.
In the last five games, Sunderland have won only one, which came in that Semi-Final first leg against Portsmouth, but Charlton can boast four wins out of five, with that only defeat coming against Doncaster last time out.
Sunday's meeting will be the 79th between the sides since the first all the way back in 1936. In that time, there's been hardly anything to separate the sides - Charlton have beaten Sunderland 29 times, while the Black Cats have won on 28 occasions, and there have also been 21 draws.
In the two games that they have played each other this season, Sunderland managed to pick up three points at the Stadium of Light after a 96th-minute winner from Lyden Gooch on the opening day of the regular season, while the game at The Valley finished all square.
FOLLOW THE FINAL
The 2019 League One Play-Off Final will be shown live on Sky Sports. Live build-up and updates for the game will also be provided via @SkyBetLeagueOne on Twitter, ‘The EFL’ on Facebook and @EFL on Instagram.
Those heading to Wembley can read a host of exclusive interviews and features in the matchday programme, including those with the likes of Charlton striker Lyle Taylor and legendary former manager Alan Curbishley, as well as Sunderland captain George Honeyman and former winger Kevin Kilbane.
There are also pieces with a couple of cult heroes, a tactical view of the game with a high-profile pundit and views from both sides of the press box.
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Referee: Andy Madley
Assistant Referees: Nick Hopton and Andrew Fox
Fourth Official: Peter Bankes
Reserve Assistant Referee: Tim Wood