Sunderland win promotion! Ross Stewart and Elliot Embleton the Wembley heroes

This time.

By Phil Smith
Saturday, 21st May 2022, 5:56 pm

Sunderland ended their play-off pain with an outstanding all-round performance at Wembley, sealing promotion from League One at the fourth time of asking.

Elliot Embleton justified his inclusion in the starting XI with a stunning solo goal, before Ross Stewart added a second with just over ten minutes to play.

Over 46,000 fans packed into the West End of Wembley and their team responded from the off with a display of control and regular threat.

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Ross Stewart scores Sunderland's second goal at Wembley

The contest was surprisingly open, and it was suiting the Black Cats who looked to have the edge in transition, a fluid front four picking apart Wycombe.

They went close when Pritchard curled a free kick into the side netting, before Stewart was inches away from getting on the end of a deflected free kick to the back post. Just a few minutes later, they got their reward. Wycombe lost possession inside their own half and the Black Cats flooded forward. O’Nien turned a pass round the corner and though Pritchard couldn’t gather, Embleton was on his shoulder.

The Wembley turf opened up and the attacking midfielder drove towards the edge of the box. The effort looked to be straight down the throat of David Stockdale, but at the last moment just the slightest swerve was enough to beat the experienced goalkeeper, who could only get a finger to it as it flew into the back of the net.

The Sunderland supporters erupted and for a spell they looked like they could get another even as Wycombe steadied and began to see more of the ball.

The Black Cats were still causing problems of the break, Stewart forcing a good save from Stockdale from the edge of the area before Pritchard had an effort of his own from just inside the box.

The flow of the game began to change before the break, Wycombe finally beginning to get long stretches of time on the ball.

They threatened when Vokes headed over at the back post from a dangerous position, before Anthony Stewart did the same from one of the first real set-piece opportunities just before the break.

Wycombe started the second half much the brighter, but Sunderland carved open a glorious chance when Pritchard crossed for Stewart, the Scot heading back across goal but watching his effort drop agonisingly wide of the back post.

There was little between the two sides, Wycombe dangerous but only really carving out a chance when Wright misjudged a long ball and allowed Vokes through on goal. Patterson did superbly, standing tall to block his effort and gather.

There were signs too of the Black Cats threatening on the counter, a penalty appeal for Roberts waved away as he broke into the box before Tafazolli did well to cut out a low cross from substitute Jack Clarke.

With just over fifteen minutes to go Akinfenwa was introduced and in a couple of key passages of play, the game swung decisively.

Sunderland got caught in a terrible defensive position and Wright gambled, but his connection on the block wasn’t good enough and substitute Hanlan was through. No defender could get close but the striker lost his composure, shooting too early an straight at Patterson.

Not long after the Black Cats broke and moved the ball well, Pritchard shifting it to Stewart on the edge of the box. The Scot took a touch to steady himself before curling a superb low effort into the bottom corner, Stockdale entirely unmoved in the Wycombe goal.

Wycombe were going forward at the first opportunity and Akinfenwa was winning plenty of first balls, but there was acres of space on the break too and Roberts was inches away from making it three when Gooch sprung him clear on the break.

Sunderland ended the game defending resolutely and threatening regularly, Clarke almost adding another as they sealed victory amid a defeaning din of noise from their support.

Sunderland XI: Patterson; Gooch, Wright, Batth, Cirkin; Evans, O’Nien; Roberts, Pritchard (Doyle, 80), Embleton (Clarke, 60); Stewart

Subs: Hoffmann, Neil, Matete, Broadhead, McGeady

Wycombe Wanderers XI: Stockdale; McCarthy, Stewart, Tafazolli, Jacobson; Gape (Akinfenwa, 74), Scowen; McLeary, Horgan (Wing, 54), Obita (Hanlan, 64); Vokes

Subs: Dickinson, Grimmer, Wheeler, Akinfenwa, Forino

Bookings: Cirkin, 46 Pritchard, 75

Attendance: 72, 332