Saturday 23rd April 2022
(7th) Sunderland v Cambridge United (12th)
Sky Bet League One
Stadium of Light
Tickets & Match Coverage
Tickets: Tickets available via www.safc.com
TV/Stream: Full live match coverage available via www.safc.com to residents outside the UK and Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man only.
Radio: Full live match commentary available via BBC Radio Newcastle (not online)
Easter went some way to sorting out the fluid nature of the play-off positions, but any slip-up at this stage could prove fatal.
But on paper we seem to be approaching the business end of the season in good form. Alex Neil has lost only one game in the twelve he has taken charge of so far, we’re unbeaten in eleven with six wins in the last nine, while only conceding four goals in the last nine games. At home we have won the last four and sit only second to Sheffield Wednesday in terms of points accumulated on home soil so far this season having played a game less.
The stats speak for themselves. That is impressive form by any standard, and during our three attempts at League One so far the run-in has been a time where we have traditionally taken a wobble. Although the results suggest we might be in a stronger position so far, there are question marks.
The opening period against Shrewsbury was probably the best spell of a game under Alex Neil so far, but what followed suggests we didn’t have the mentality to manage the game and put them to the sword. Having said that, we looked rock solid in terms of our concentration at Plymouth, so if we can combine the two attributes we may be on for a successful end to the season.
Our opponents this afternoon are Cambridge United, who are enjoying themselves at present. They have nothing to play as they go into their penultimate fixture as they sit in a comfortable 12th in League One, twenty behind the play-offs and eighteen clear of the drop.
Considering their current position in the third tier follows seven years in League Two and nine in the National League before that, it’s some achievement, hence their enjoyment of the run-in this season.
Mark Bonner has performed miracles at the Abbey Stadium and the fact his side travel to the Stadium of Light to play in front of a big crowd with nothing to play for could present a dangerous prospect.
Looking at their recent form, they have won three of the last five and just looking at their away form, they have won the last three fixtures away from the Abbey Stadium. In The U’s 22 games away from home they have won seven and lost ten, and hopefully more relevant for the game ahead, only five sides in the division have conceded more away goals this term.
There’s a suggestion that they could be already on the beach, but my guess is they will be wanting to enjoy their weekend at the Stadium of Light as they coast to the close season.
League One Form...
Sunderland home form...
Cambridge United away form...
We’re big favourites this afternoon at 4/11 to take all three points, with Cambridge priced at 15/2 and the draw is 7/2.
The shortest odds for a correct score is 5/1 for a 2-0 win for The Lads followed by a 1-0 at 11/2. A Cambridge 1-0 win is a long 18/1 with a 1-1 draw more likely according to the bookies at 8/1.
Head to head... in Sunderland
- Sunderland wins: 2
- Draws: 2
- Cambridge United wins: 1
- Sunderland goals: 11
- Cambridge United goals: 10
Last time we met at home...
Saturday 9th January 1993
Barclays League Division One
Sunderland 3-3 Cambridge United
[Mooney 14’, Rush 38’, Atkinson 76’ - Clayton 16’, Claridge 65’, Raynor 84’]
Sunderland: Norman, Kay, Butcher, Ord, Gray (Atkinson), Mooney, Ball, Cunnington, Armstrong, Goodman, Rush Substitute not used: Davenport
Cambridge United: Vaughan, Fensome, Kimble, Raynor, Heathcote, O’Shea, Francis (Rowett), Clayton, Butler, Claridge, Leadbitter (White)
Played for both...
Signed for Sunderland a year after our FA Cup win after exploding onto the scene at Luton Town as a 21-year-old the previous year, but only made 14 starts before joining Cambridge United for £50,000.
The midfielder would stay at the Abbey Stadium for eight years and rejoined them again in 1984 after a stint at Brentford, where he made 332 appearances over the two spells scoring 61 goals. he was also Cambridge United’s most capped player, picking up seven of the 15 caps for Northern Ireland while on The U’s books.
Denis Smith brought Heathcote to Sunderland from Spennymoor Town in 1987, but the central defender only made ten appearances in three years before joining Shrewsbury Town.
A year later he joined John Beck’s Cambridge United as they came so close to being a Premier League club for its inaugural year. Heathcote made well over 100 appearances over the next four years and made the starting XI for Cambridge’s previous two visits to Wearside that both resulted in score draws.