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Finlay’s Report: Job done & Sunderland are off to Wembley - but now League One is back in focus!

RR’s junior reporter Finlay Anderson gives us his run-down of last night’s victory at Bristol Rovers - and whilst we know we’re off to Wembley, our focus must return to league action ahead of two massive upcoming games for Sunderland.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Wembley awaits for Sunderland!

Sunderland will face Portsmouth on Sunday 31st March 2019 in the Checkatrade Trophy Final after a 2-0 victory over Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Stadium last night.

Goals either side of half time from Will Grigg and Lewis Morgan sealed the victory for Jack Ross’ side and sent the supporters at the Memorial Stadium and around the country into delirium.

The gaffer named a strong team for the game, making just two changes to the side that won 2-0 against Plymouth at the weekend. Both Reece James and Lee Cattermole had minor knocks after the match, so Adam Matthews and Max Power replaced them. Will Grigg started up top, with George Honeyman captaining the side.

Sunderland were quick out of the blocks and nearly took the lead when Aiden McGeady took a curling shot from outside of the penalty area - but a magnificent save from Jack Bonham kept the ball out of the net.

Getty Images

Then, the visitors would have been behind if it wasn’t for brilliant contributions from Jon McLaughlin then Sunderland would have been behind before the half an hour mark. When Clarke-Harris’ shot was spilled by McLaughlin, Sinclair’s follow-up was kept out by the Scottish goalkeeper.

Before half time, Sunderland drew the first blood in the Checkatrade Trophy semi-final when Power slipped the ball through the middle of the Bristol Rovers defence to Will Grigg. Grigg turned and beautifully fired the ball into the bottom right corner of the Rovers net to score his first goal from open play.

After limping for a few minutes after a nasty challenge for Nichols, George Honeyman had to be substituted before the interval, so Lynden Gooch replaced him and took the role just behind the main striker.

Only two minutes after the half time interval, Sunderland doubled their advantage and put one foot into the Wembley final clash with Portsmouth. Lynden Gooch’s shot was punched away by Jack Bonham, but only to Lewis Morgan, who reacted the quickest and slotted the ball into the bottom left corner of the Sunderland net.

Getty Images

After the Sunderland’s second goal, Bristol Rovers came out more attacking and had a few small penalty appeals, which were all waved away by the referee.

With around 77 minutes on the clock, Jack Ross decided to make his second change of the match, when Aiden McGeady - after another great performance from the winger - was replaced with Duncan Watmore, who added extra pace for the Bristol Rovers defenders to deal with.

Sunderland managed to hold on for a trip to Wembley in the Checkatrade Trophy final, as the match ended Bristol Rovers 0-2 Sunderland AFC.

The Black Cats will play Pompey in the Checkatrade Trophy final on Sunday 31st March 2019 at Wembley Stadium, so that means that Sunderland’s home match against Burton Albion has been rescheduled and the away game against Accrington Stanley will have to be put back 24 hours.

Next up, Sunderland face another away trip, this time to Adams Park, where the Black Cats will face Luke O’Nien’s former side, Wycombe Wanderers. I expect Jack Ross to switch his side around with one of the biggest games in Sky Bet League One coming up on Tuesday against Barnsley at Oakwell.