Match Preview: Sunderland v Northampton Town 9 May 2021
TV/Stream: Full live match coverage available via www.safc.com.
Radio: Full live match commentary available via BBC Radio Newcastle (not online)
Don’t forget to follow the blow-by-blow account of the game on the Roker Report Twitter feed (@RokerReport) and check out the player ratings after the full-time whistle at www.RokerReport.com!
For a seemingly meaningless game, head coach Lee Johnson will be under the spotlight as our 46-game season comes to an end ahead of was maybe an inevitable extension.
Does he risk players coming back from injury to get much-needed minutes before we enter into the semi-final phase of the play-offs? Does he try new combinations to see how it works? Is there a complete focus to build upon the momentum that we picked up from the trip to Plymouth Argyle?
A lot of questions will be answered when the team is announced, and it’s a balancing act that is going to be tough to negotiate for the man in charge.
Northampton enter the final day of the season knowing that they return to League Two after only one season in the third tier. Up until the new year, it seemed like the Cobblers, under Keith Curle, were keeping the heads above the relegation zone and doing enough not to be dragged into it.
Poor form in the opening weeks of 2021 resulted in the sacking of Curle on the 10th February, with Under-18s coach Jon Brady taking over for the rest of the season – Brady is assisted by former Sunderland defender Ian Sampson.
Northampton’s fate was confirmed last weekend after a 3-0 defeat at home to Blackpool, so with the pressure off they will no doubt be determined to end on a high.League One Form Guide Last five games... Sunderland Team News
There will be much discussion on who may or may not return from fitness to squeeze in minutes before the play-offs in the coming weeks.
Aiden McGeady and Charlie Wyke want minutes on Sunday but may have to settle with getting them from the bench to avoid major risks. The same could possibly be said of the likes of Conor McLaughlin, Tom Flanagan and Jake Vokins who are all desperate for game time.
There is also the possibility of Callum McFadzean giving Denver Hume a brief rest while we still can. For a game of so little consequence, Lee Johnson’s starting XI will be much scrutinised.
Northampton Town Team News
Possible XI: Burge, McLaughlin, Wright, O’Nien, McFadzean, Winchester, Power, Gooch, Jones, O’Brien, Stewart
Full-back Peter Kioso and striker Joseph Mills have both been ruled out as the curtain falls on Northampton’s season.
Kioso has a double hernia that has been awaiting treatment during the Cobblers fight for survival and Mills has fractured his ankle to leave him preparing early for pre-season.
Last Time We Met... at the Stadium of Light Tuesday 23rd September 2008 League Cup - 3rd Round Sunderland 2-2 Northampton Town (Stokes 86’, 90’ - Larkin 20’, Guttridge 81’)
Possible XI: Mitchell, Harriman, Horsfall, Jones, Mills, Watson, McWilliams, Morris, Hoskins, Rose, Miller
(After extra-time - Sunderland won 4-3 on penalties)
Played For Both Lee Howey
Sunderland: Fulop, Bardsley, Nosworthy, Ferdinand, Collins, Edwards (Richardson), Whitehead, Leadbitter (Stokes), Reid, Murphy, Healy (Chopra) Substitutes not used: Colgan, Chimbonda, Miller, Yorke
Northampton: Fielding, Little, Holt (Jackman), Guttridge, Hughes, Crowe, Osman, Coke (Gilligan), Larkin (Akinfenwa), Constantine, Davis Substitutes not used: Dunn, Dolman, Dyer, Henderson,
Signed by Terry Butcher from Bishop Auckland in 1993 after the two had known each other previously from their time at Ipswich Town, it was Peter Reid who turned Howey from a striker into a formidable centre-half, who grabbed the odd goal.
Arguably, none of Howey’s goals for the club was more important than a last-minute equaliser at Portsmouth which was the foundation for a nine-game winning streak that was a major part of our title win in 1995-96.
After leaving Sunderland for Burnley in 1997, he joined Northampton in 1999, – initially on a four-month loan – before joining permanently ahead of the 1999-2000 season. He spent two seasons at Sixfields, before finishing his career with spells at Forest Green Rovers and Nuneaton Borough.Martin Smith
The ‘Son of Pele’ burst onto the scene as we struggled during the reigns of Terry Butcher and then Mick Buxton, and was a hero with an all-important goal against Swindon Town for Peter Reid.
Injury problems hampered him from getting the amount of games for the Lads he would have surely collected had he stayed fit, but he was a pleasure to watch whenever he took the pitch.
Joined Northampton in 2003 after spells with Sheffield United and Huddersfield Town, and he’s still revered at Sixfields after making over 100 appearances for the Cobblers.Head to Head... at Sunderland In all competitions... Played: 6 Sunderland wins: 4 Draws: 1 Northampton Town wins: 1 Goals for Sunderland: 13 Goals for Northampton Town: 8 Match Betting
The pressure is off and it might be one of the reasons the bookies have us resounding favourites at 4/7, while Northampton are 5/1, and the draw 29/10.
In terms of the correct score, a 1-0 Sunderland victory is favourite at 11/2, with 2-0 at 13/2. There’s a little bit more value at 3-0 where 11/1 is on offer, which can be boosted to 20/1 when combined with Chris Maguire to score at any time.
In terms of scorers, Charlie Wyke is 12/5 to open the scoring for Sunderland and 4/5 anytime scorer, but behind him Ross Stewart is an interesting 4/1 to grab the first and 11/8 to get one at any time during the proceedings
Denver Hume was on the scoresheet last weekend and he is a cool 50/1 to grab our opener and 20/1 to repeat his exploits of last week and score at any time.Match Prediction
Both sides know their fate and a number of our lads will be playing for their place in the big games to come – let’s finish on a high.Sunderland 3-0 Northampton Town