How Sunderland can finish third in League One despite Blackpool and Lincoln's games in hand

Sunderland have secured a play-off spot – but what are their chances of securing one of what are perceived to be the more favourable positions?

Monday, 3rd May 2021, 4:30 pm

Teams in third and fourth have the benefit of a second-leg tie at home, so what will Sunderland have to do to ensure they finish in one of those positions?

We take a look:

THE KEY FIXTURES

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This is exactly what Sunderland must do to finish third in League One - and the help they require from Charlton and Doncaster
This is exactly what Sunderland must do to finish third in League One - and the help they require from Charlton and Doncaster

Here are the ket fixtures to look out for in the final week of the season:

Tuesday May 4

Blackpool v Doncaster Rovers

Charlton Athletic v Lincoln City

Sunday May 9

Blackpool v Bristol Rovers

Lincoln City v AFC Wimbledon

Sunderland v Northampton Town

HOW CAN SUNDERLAND FINISH THIRD IN LEAGUE ONE?

So what combination of results could see Sunderland retain third place in League One?

We’ve crunched the numbers:

- Sunderland win against Northampton Town, Lincoln gain a maximum of three points from their remaining two games, and Blackpool gain a maximum of four points from their last fixtures. This would see Sunderland and Lincoln level on points, but the Black Cats’ superior goal difference would likely be enough.

- Sunderland draw, Lincoln City gain a maximum of one point and Blackpool gain a maximum of three points. This should be enough for Sunderland, barring a seven-goal swing.

- Sunderland lose, Lincoln lose both of their remaining games, and Blackpool fail to win both of their games. Again, this would see a tie on points but the Black Cats’ goal difference could see them pip the other sides to third place.

HOW CAN SUNDERLAND FINISH FOURTH IN LEAGUE ONE?

With Lincoln and Blackpool both having those crucial games in hand, it could be that Sunderland drop at least one place before the season is finished.

Here’s what sequence of results would see the Black Cats finish in fourth:

- Sunderland win against Northampton, but Lincoln pick-up a minimum of four points while Blackpool earn just three points from their final two games.

- Sunderland win, Blackpool win both of their games and Lincoln gain no more than three points – with Sunderland’s goal difference then likely seeing them finish above the Imps.

- Sunderland draw, Lincoln win one of their games and Blackpool drop points in their remaining fixtures.

- Sunderland lose, Lincoln get at least a point from their remaining games – but Blackpool gain no more than two points.

- Sunderland lose, Lincoln lose both of their games and Blackpool win at least one of their two fixtures – with goal difference then hopefully favouring the Wearsiders.

HOW CAN SUNDERLAND FINISH FIFTH IN LEAGUE ONE?

So what sequence of results could see the Black Cats drop two places before the season is out?:

- If Lincoln pick up a minimum of four points, and Blackpool win both of their games, then Sunderland’s result is irrelevant – and both teams will leapfrog Lee Johnson’s outfit.

- If Sunderland draw, then Lincoln need to just win one game while Blackpool need four points.

- And if Sunderland lose, then Lincoln require only a point and a win will be enough for Blackpool

COULD SUNDERLAND DROP BELOW FIFTH PLACE IN LEAGUE ONE?

No – Sunderland are guaranteed a top five finish.

But exactly what position they will finish the campaign in will come down to the final day.

A message from the Football Clubs Editor:

Our aim is to provide you with the best, most up-to-date and most informative Sunderland AFC coverage 365 days a year.

Your support is much appreciated. Richard Mennear, Football Clubs Editor