Monday 5th April 2021
(2nd) Peterborough United v Sunderland (3rd)
Sky Bet League One
TV/Stream: Full live match coverage available via Sky Sports and also www.safc.com to season card holders that have activated access to coverage of all games played behind closed doors.
Radio: Full live match commentary available via BBC Radio Newcastle (not online)
There might be eight games remaining after today’s fixture for Sunderland but this has the feel of a huge game. Lee Johnson’s side travel to London Road ahead of the bank holiday clash trailing Posh by two points but with a game in hand.
With only one defeat away from home all season, which was Sunderland’s last defeat in League One – at Shrewsbury Town on the 9th February – confidence will be high in the ranks, especially as that was also the last defeat in 22 league fixtures.
A hard-fought victory last time out against Oxford will also provide belief, and not only because it was the ninth win in the last 11 League One games, but also for the fact Lee Johnson has managed to inject a team spirit that can achieve maximum points when we’re slightly off our game.
Darren Ferguson is no stranger to pushing for promotion having achieved it on three occasions already with Peterborough, and this term his side have been up at the top almost from the off.
Not only are they League One’s top scorers, but at home they have scored 11 more than the next side in the division, and 16 more than Sunderland have managed to bag at the Stadium of Light. They have also only conceded 14 so far at London Road, which is only bettered by current leaders Hull City.
Their previous two fixtures have yielded victories, including a 7-0 win over Accrington Stanley, but that was in response to a slight wobble that saw one win in six and included defeats to Blackpool, Hull and Burton. Lee Johnson will be looking to take advantage of any possible weakness.
It’s second vs third, the best home record in League One vs best away record, and top scorers at home vs best defensive record away from home in the division.
The Sky cameras are there, the only thing that is missing is the fans, but we’ll all be watching - as we hold our breath.
League One Form Guide
Last five games...
Sunderland Team News
Lee Johnson is a man with a plan and not many are any good at predicting what that plan is exactly.
Jordan Jones and Aiden McGeady were replaced against Oxford to presumably save their legs for the clash at London Road. Although Lynden Gooch was better when out wide, he could potentially be replaced with Aiden O’Brien again to provide more support to Charlie Wyke.
Rotation is possible in the middle of the park, where we might see Max Power move back to full-back to accommodate Carl Winchester or Grant Leadbitter in an effort to keep possession of the ball and relieve pressure.
Other than the potential appearance of Denver Hume on the bench, no other returns from injury are expected to be added to the match day squad.
Possible XI: Burge, Power, Sanderson, O’Nien, McFadzean, Winchester, Scowen, Jones, McGeady, O’Brien, Wyke
Peterborough United Team News
Jack Taylor and Siriki Dembele could both make their first starts after returning from injury and coming off the bench for the last half an hour on Friday during the 1-0 win at Simon Grayson’s Fleetwood Town.
After the recent wobble in form, Darren Ferguson changed things up, reverting to a back four from a three that was deployed in the first part of the season. The return to form suggests that this will continue, but defender Ronnie Edwards won’t play his part as he continues his return to full fitness.
Possible XI: Pym, Thompson, Beevers, Kent, Butler, Taylor, Brown, Dembele, Szmodics, Ward, Clarke-Harris
Last Time We Met... at London Road
Saturday 31st August 2019
Sky Bet League One
Peterborough United 3 - 0 Sunderland
(Maddison 36’, 64’, Knight 52’ - O’Nien and Wyke sent off for Sunderland)
Sunderland: J. McLaughlin, O’Nien, Ozturk, Willis, C. McLaughlin, Gooch (Grigg), Power, Leadbitter, McGeady (Dobson), Wyke, McNulty (Flanagan) Substitutes not used: Burge, Baldwin, McGeouch, Embleton
Peterborough United: Pym, Mason (Thompson), Butler, Reed, Kent, Beevers, Knight (Burrows), Maddison, Toney, Eisa (Dembele), Boyd Substitutes not used: O’Malley, Bennett, Tasdemir, Ward
Played For both
Sunderland-born David Rush began his Sunderland career by replacing John Cornforth in a League Cup tie against Fulham at Roker ending 1-1 in September 1989.
Rush wouldn’t be seen again in a Sunderland shirt until he was brought back into the first team during an injury crisis in 1990-91. Injuries to Marco Gabbiadini and Peter Davenport meant Denis Smith turned to David Rush, Warren Hawke and Kieron Brady to help the first team squad.
The following season in 1991-92, Rush stepped up and made a larger contribution to the first team, making 27 starts. This would include important goals as we reached FA Cup final. This would all come for David Rush by the age of 20, but by the age of 27, he would be playing non-league football.
After a couple of loan moves to Hartlepool and Peterborough United – for whom he played four times, scoring one goal – Rush moved to Oxford United in 1994. It was a move that would reunite him with Denis Smith and Malcolm Crosby and relatively successful, with Rush scoring 21 in 92 League games.
Short periods at York City and Hartlepool United followed before falling out of the game. In recent years Rush was assistant manager to ex-Sunderland defender Anthony Smith at Gateshead, where he had a spell as caretaker manager before being replaced.
Early promise very quickly paved the way for a move to Gillingham where Breen would play over 50 games between 1992 and 1994 for The Gills. This would be enough for John Still at Peterborough United to part with £70,000 for the player.
One season at London Road would be all that was needed for Birmingham City to offer £250,000 to take him to St Andrews in February 1996 where he played for less than a year before neighbours Coventry City, led by Gordon Strachan, upped the ante and offered the Blues £2.5 million to take him to Highfield Road.
His performances for the Republic of Ireland during the 2002 World Cup would see his stock rise which led to links with Barcelona and also a move to Inter Milan, that was said to have broken down at the last hour due to a failed medical. He eventually, after much speculation, unsurprisingly, signed for West Ham United on a free transfer.
A year later would see Mick McCarthy bag a bargain for Sunderland, Gary Breen signed on a free transfer the following summer. A classy centre-half at that level, Breen would play 115 times for Sunderland and lifted the Championship trophy as captain in 2005.
After spells with Wolverhampton Wanderers (linking up again with Mick McCarthy) and Barnet, and a career that included 63 caps for the Republic of Ireland, Gary Breen retired from football in 2010.
Head to Head...at London Road
In all competitions...
Sunderland wins: 2
Peterborough United wins: 2
Goals for Sunderland: 8
Goals for Peterborough United: 10
The bookmakers are really struggling to split the two sides as they have a win for either side priced at 17/10 with the draw 21/10.
Maybe it’s unsurprising that a 1-1 draw is the favourite result at 9/2 and Sunderland to win with the only goal of the game is 6/1.
Also unsurprisingly, Charlie Wyke is favourite to open the scoring for Sunderland at 10/3 and is 13/10 to score at anytime. Behind Sunderland’s top scorer is Lynden Gooch, Jordan Jones, Chris Maguire, Aiden O’Brien and Ross Stewart all at 13/2 to score the first for the away side and 13/5 to net at anytime.
Combining a convincing 2-0 for Lee Johnson’s side with Wyke to score at anytime is priced at a tempting 18/1.
It’s such a big game, and it’s in front of the Sky cameras, which just might mean it’s more about not giving anything away rather than taking risks to win it.
A draw might suit both sides with eight games still remaining.