Saturday 20th February 2021
(24th) Burton Albion v Sunderland (7th)
Sky Bet League One
TV/Stream: Full live match coverage available via www.safc.com
Radio: Full live match commentary available via BBC Sunderland DAB and BBC Radio Newcastle (not online)
Are Sunderland on a roll? We all, along with Lee Johnson no doubt hope so, but what are the signs?
Do we look at a week where we have beaten a promotion favourite who were on a roll 4-1, and reached the EFL Trophy final at Wembley after a penalty shoot-out?
Or, do we look at a run of one win in the last four in League One - which included a poor performance that ended in defeat at Shrewsbury Town only 11 days ago?
The question of which Sunderland will turn up isn’t a new one, and eradicating this question mark is key to a successful end to this season.
Extrapolating games in hand into three points shows that we could potentially be four points outside of the play-offs, and Lee Johnson will know only full well that further slip-ups in League One will start creating an unattainable gap.
Burton Albion took the decision to sack manager Jake Buxton at the end of December as they sat six points from safety at the foot of League One. They then decided to look back to look forward, and began the new year with the appointment of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink as manager for a second time at the club on New Year’s Day.
His first spell at the club included winning the League Two title, and being top of the table in League One as he left to join Queens Park Rangers in December 2015.
After a thumping 5-1 defeat at home to Oxford United only a day after his appointment, the ex-Chelsea striker would have been under no illusions as to the scale of the task in hand, but three wins in the four games since then have steadied the ship at the Pirelli Stadium.
They are now only three points from safety in League One, and will be looking at the opportunity to take all three points in a clash with Sunderland to provide proof they have turned a corner.
League One Form Guide
Last five games...
Sunderland Team News
Dion Sanderson comes back into contention after being cup-tied in midweek so is expected to slot in alongside Bailey Wright who is also expected to be fit after taking a knock against Lincoln.
It could be a toss of a coin between Vokins and McFadzean at left-back, but McFadzean is likely to get the nod. Ross Stewart will also have to wait for his Sunderland debut as he regains fitness from a hamstring injury.
Otherwise, the expectation is a side to build on the standard set in last week’s win over Doncaster Rovers.
Possible XI: Burge, McLaughlin, Sanderson, Wright, McFadzean, Power, O’Nien, Scowen, McGeady, Gooch, Wyke
Burton Albion Team News
A huge turnover of personnel in January means that the second Hasselbaink era at the Pirelli is still taking shape and a starting XI is difficult to predict.
Eleven signings in the January window plus two signings in the last week in the form of Michael Mancienne and Danny Rowe has added an element of depth to the Brewers squad.
Kane Hemmings may need a late assessment to see if is able to lead the line, but will be Burton’s lone striker should he make it.
Possible XI: Garratt, Earl, Bostwick, Carter, Brayford, Clare, Edwards, Parker, Broom, Akins, Hemmings
Last Time We Met... at the Pirelli Stadium
Saturday 15th September 2018
Sky Bet League One
Burton Albion 2 - 1 Sunderland
(Allen 19’, McFadzean 36’ - Maguire 54’)
Sunderland: J. McLaughlin, Matthews, Loovens (O’Nien), Baldwin, Oviedo, Sinclair (McGeady), Cattermole, Honeyman, Gooch, Maja, Wyke (Maguire) Substitutes not used: Ruiter, Hume, Flanagan, Ozturk
Burton Albion: Evtimov, McCroy (Hutchinson), Fraser, Allen, McFadzean, Turner, Templton (Sbarra), Akins, Sordell (Fox), Quinn, Boyce Substitutes not used: Campbell, Hesketh, Harness, Cole
Played for Both
Delap started his career at Carlisle United in the mid-1990’s gained a big move to Derby County in 1998. After a move to Southampton, he then joined Mick McCarthy’s Sunderland during the 2005-06 season as Sunderland were relegated.
His injury plagued time at Sunderland summed up by only making 13 appearances for the club. Left to join Stoke City where he would become famous for his long throw-ins, after not even hinting at this ability at Sunderland. Ended his playing career at Burton Albion after six appearances in 2013. His son Liam is on the books at Manchester City.
Washington-born Pickford had six loan moves whilst learning his trade before making his breakthrough at Sunderland.
Darlington, Alfreton Town, Carlisle United, Bradford city, Preston North End and today’s opponents Burton Albion all saw the young goalkeeper’s potential at close quarters. He made 13 appearances for Burton in 2013, which isn’t that many fewer than the 35 in total he made for Sunderland, only three more than the amount of times he was an used substitute.
Left for a few quid to Everton, going on to play World Cup semi-finals and all that.
Head to Head... at the Pirelli Stadium
In all competitions...
Sunderland wins: 1
Burton Albion wins: 1
Goals for Sunderland: 3
Goals for Burton Albion: 2
The league positions of the two sides are reflected in the betting, where Sunderland are clear favourites with the bookies at 3/4. Burton find themselves a 4/1 shot with the draw on offer at 5/2.
No surprise that Charlie Wyke is the man the bookmakers have as favourite to open the scoring for Sunderland at 5/2, and at 10/11 as an anytime goalscorer. Aiden O’Brien is perhaps more value at 5/1 to get the opener and 19/10 to hit the net at anytime.
A 1-0 Sunderland victory is out in front for correct score at 24/5, with a more comfortable 2-0 stretching out to 6/1.
After midweek I’d just like a routine victory without much fuss this weekend, and I think we’ll get it.