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Cup Final Preview: Everything you need to know ahead of Sunderland taking on Tranmere at Wembley!

It’s EFL Trophy final day for the Lads as they aim to end their rotten run of losing games at Wembley. Can they do it? Here’s everything you need to know ahead of kick-off!

Sunday 14th March 2021

Sunderland v Tranmere Rovers

Papa John’s Trophy



Kick-Off: 3.00pm

Match Coverage

TV/Stream: Full live match coverage available via Sky Sports.

Radio: Full live match commentary available via BBC Sunderland DAB and 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!

Three months into his Sunderland tenure, Lee Johnson leads the club out ahead of a Wembley final in the form of the Papa John’s Trophy. The manager has spoken extensively since arriving at the club about changing the mentality around the club and will see today’s final as an important step to instil a winning habit at the Stadium of Light.

He has dragged the club back into contention for automatic promotion, and a glance at the impact on Jack Ross’ side when we lost the final as we were sitting in a similar league position, will no doubt provide further motivation to get the job done.

Sunderland v Port Vale - EFL Trophy
Lee Johnson hoping to claim his first trophy as Sunderland manager
Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

After a double blow of relegation by vote and Micky Mellon leaving to take on the job at Dundee United, it has been a season of transition at Tranmere. Mike Jackson, who was Micky Mellon’s assistant, took over the reins, but with the club sitting 18th after ten games in League Two, a change was required.

Keith Hill took over in November and has turned the season around at Prenton Park. Now sitting 4th in the table and only two points behind the leaders, four wins in the last five means they are some people’s favourites to take one of the three automatic places and return back to League One at the first attempt.

Considering the charge they have been on in the league and an impressive 2-0 victory at in-form Oxford United in the semi-final, Keith Hill’s side will not be arriving at Wembley to simply make up the numbers.

Tranmere Rovers v Newport County - Sky Bet League Two
Tranmere Rover manager Keith Hill
Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images

Road to Wembley...

Sunderland Team News

Injuries and players being cup-tied could well require Lee Johnson to shuffle his pack and possibly formation for the final at Wembley. Based on who might be fit to play at the back, it’s possible we revert to a back three, but Johnson’s tactics are so fluid at the moment we might not see a difference.

Dion Sanderson and Carl Winchester are unavailable through being cup-tied, and Jordan Jones is likely to face a fitness test on a tight hamstring suffered at Portsmouth. Considering his recent form Lee Johnson may be tempted to keep the on-loan winger fresh for League One duty at Accrington Stanley on Wednesday night.are un

Possible XI: Burge, McLaughlin, O’Nien, Flanagan, Gooch, Power, Scowen, McFadzean, McGeady, O’Brien, Wyke

Sunderland v Swindon Town - Sky Bet League One
Luke O’Nien will be vital once again to hold Sunderland’s makeshift defence together
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Tranmere Rovers Team News

It will be interesting to see what direction Keith Hill will take in his team selection ahead of the final.

So far it has mainly been fringe players who have taken to the field in the competition and there’s the risk of damaging morale in the squad ahead of what they hope will be a charge to automatic promotion to League One.

The big news however, is that former Sunderland striker James Vaughan has been ruled out through injury, which taking into account he has bagged 21 goals this term will be a blow for Tranmere.

Possible XI: Murphy, O’Connor, Ray, Monthe, Ridehalgh, Kirby, Feeney, Lloyd, Woolery, Lewis, Morris

Last Time We Met...

Wednesday 29th January 2020

Sky Bet League One

Tranmere Rovers 0 - 1 Sunderland

(Wyke 60’ - Monthe sent off for Tranmere)

Sunderland: J. McLaughlin, Willis, Wright, Lynch, O’Nien, Dobson, Power, Hume, Maguire (Scowen), Gooch, Wyke Substitutes not used: Burge, C. McLaughlin, Flanagan, Leaditter, McNulty, Lafferty

Tranmere Rovers: Davies, Caprice, Wilson, Woods, Monthe, Ridehalgh (Mullin), Morris, Woodyard, Ferrier (Payne), Perkins (Gilmour), Jennings Substitutes not used: Pilling, Nelson, Potter, Spellman

Attendance: 6,850

Tranmere Rovers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Charlie Wyke celebrates scoring his winning goal at Prenton Park for Sunderland back in January 2020
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Played For both

David Kelly

Started his career at Walsall in the early 80s which provided a springboard for subsequent moves to West Ham, Leicester City, Newcastle and Wolverhampton Wanderers before he signed for Sunderland for just under £1 million in 1995.

Became a bit-part player after he returned to the first team following a serious ankle injury and left to sign for Tranmere after Sunderland’s relegation from the Premier League.

Dariusz Kubicki

Mick Buxton picked up a bargain when he signed Polish full-back Kubicki from Ron Atkinson’s Aston Villa for £100,000 in 1994 following a successful spell on loan.

Became a mainstay at right-back in Sunderland title winning season during 1995-96 that provided Sunderland’s first season in the Premier League. Controversially dropped as he was about to match George Mulhall’s post-war record for consecutive appearances, the writing was on the wall and he left in the summer of 1997 for Wolverhampton Wanderers.

He struggled to nail down a starting position at Molineux and had moves to Tranmere (on-loan), Carlisle United and Darlington before retiring in 1999.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Dariusz Kubicki challenges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for the ball at Old Trafford

Match Betting

To simply lift the trophy Sunderland are 4/11 outright favourites and Tranmere are a 2/1 shot to be celebrating on Sunday evening.

The bookies have Sunderland as firm favourites to take the trophy in ninety minutes at 4/5 with Tranmere priced at 7/2 to become Papa John’s Trophy holders. If you fancy extra-time, it’s 5/2 to be required to settle things, with the Lads 8/1 to win it in extra-time and Tranmere 16/1.

For it to go all the way and into penalties, the bookmakers have priced either side at 10/1 to win on pens at Wembley.

Portsmouth v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Can Sunderland and Charlie Wyke take our recent form in League One into the Papa John’s Trophy final?
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Match Prediction

The writing has been on the wall as soon as it looked likely that fans wouldn’t be present at Wembley. The odds are that we’ll be too strong and end our Wembley run of defeats with winning the Papa John’s Trophy, and none of us will be there to see it.

Sunderland 2 - 0 Tranmere


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