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Wycombe Wanderers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One

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Match Preview: Sunderland v Coventry City - the season opener has finally arrived!

Has the summer felt quick or has it dragged? The season opener is upon us and another season gets under way - here’s all you need to know as the Lads kick-off at home to Coventry City.

Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images

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Sunday 31st July 2022

Sunderland v Coventry City


Stadium of Light

Kick-Off: 12:00

Tickets & Match Coverage

Tickets: Tickets available here.

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

Radio: Full live match commentary available via 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!

The build-up...

All the nonsense of pre-season analysis and gossip is nearing an end as we once again usher in the start of a new season in the history of Sunderland Association Football Club. And what an important one it is.

Although we have left behind the inevitable expectation of promotion at all costs that being in League One came with, there is a huge emphasis on re-establishing ourselves as a Championship club.

We can probably assume that even though they have already done a bit of business, Alex Neil and the club will be working up to the closure of the transfer window to add more quality and depth to the squad.

It’s a challenge that we haven’t faced since we were promoted from Division Three back in the summer of 1988 as we take on Coventry City in front of the Sky cameras in an early kick-off to open the season, and I, for one, would be quite happy with a repeat of the mid-table finish we achieved over 30 years ago.

Hartlepool v Sunderland: Pre-Season Friendly
Sunderland Manager Alex Neil during thepre-season friendly at Hartlepool United
Photo by Michael Driver /MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Coventry are a side who we’d quite like to follow, if I’m honest. Others might be in a hurry to challenge at the top end of the table (and I’d be quite happy if that was the case), but Coventry returned to the Championship after eight seasons away in the summer of 2020 and have done well to establish themselves back into the Championship over those two years.

It was only five years ago, in the summer of 2017, when the club were facing their first ever season in League Two – and five years later, the Sky Blues are coming off the back of finishing 12th in the second tier.

This rise back up the football ladder coincided with the appointment of Mark Robins as manager of the club for a second time, leaving previously in 2013 to take the post at Huddersfield Town.

It’s a pivotal year for Coventry and Robins as they attempt to improve once again and potentially challenge for a play-off place while not allowing themselves to take their eye off the ball and get dragged into a battle at the wrong end of the table that they could do without.

Walsall v Coventry City - Pre Season Friendly - Poundland Bescot Stadium
Coventry City manager Mark Robins during pre-season
Photo by Bradley Collyer/PA Images via Getty Images


  • Coventry have only won on Wearside once in the last 45 years, winning 5-4 at the Stadium of Light in April 2019.
  • The Sky Blues previous victory in Sunderland before 2019 came in 1977, as they left with a 1-0 victory in Mick Docherty’s debut for Sunderland.
  • The last time the two sides met at the Stadium of Light in the Championship ended in a 2-0 victory for the Lads in February 2007, with goals from Dwight Yorke and Carlos Edwards as Roy Keane’s Sunderland marched to the title.
  • Before Coventry bagged five goals in April 2019, they hadn’t scored a goal on Wearside since Robbie Keane scored the opening goal in a 1-1 draw back in August 1999.
  • Out of 36 League meetings between the two sides, 26 have been fixtures in the top flight.
  • The previous ten meetings between the two clubs have all come outside of the top flight.
Sunderland v Coventry Keane
Robbie Keane celebrating his goal for Coventry City at the Stadium of Light in August 1999
Photo by John Giles - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

The betting...

During 90 minutes, the bookies have it close but are slightly favouring a Sunderland win at 8/5, with Coventry City at 13/8, and the draw 9/4.

In terms of a correct score, a 1-1 draw is the shortest odds at 9/2, followed by 7/1 for a 1-0 for the Lads, although a 1-0 away is close behind at 15/2.

Head to head... at Sunderland

(All competitions)

  • Sunderland wins: 9
  • Draws: 9
  • Coventry City wins: 2
  • Sunderland goals: 23
  • Coventry City goals: 10

Last time we met... at the Stadium of Light

Saturday 23rd November 2019

Sky Bet League One

Stadium of Light

Sunderland 1-1 Coventry City

[Kimpioka 90’ - Hyam 26’]

Sunderland: Burge, O’Nien, Willis (Flanagan), Lynch, Hume, Maguire, Leadbitter, Dobson, Power (Watmore), McGeady, Grigg (Kimpioka) Substitutes not used: McLaughlin, De Bock, Ozturk, McGeouch

Coventry City: Marosi, Dabo, Mason, Rose, McFadzean, Hyam, Westbrooke (Allen), Kelly, Bakayoko (Hiwula), Walsh, Shipley (O’Hare) Substitutes not used: Wilson, Watson, McCallum, Kastaneer

Attendance: 29,809

Sunderland v Coventry City - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light
Benji Kimpioka celebrates after scoring his late equaliser back in November 2019
Photo by Dave Howarth/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images

Played for both...

Phil Babb

Signing for Coventry for around £500,000 from Bradford City in 1992 propelled Phil Babb into the top tier of English football and led to a £3.6 million move to Liverpool in 1994, making him the most expensive defender in Britain.

Six years at Anfield followed before moving to Portugal and Sporting CP ahead of returning to England to join Sunderland on a free transfer in the summer of 2002 before retiring in 2004 at the age of 33.

Sunderland v West Bromwich Albion
Phil Babb
Photo by Gary M.Prior/Getty Images

Calum Davenport

Davenport was highly rated as he broke through the ranks at Coventry in the early 2000s and a move to Tottenham Hotspur followed three years of first-team football in 2004.

His time with Spurs was mainly spent out on loan until a move to West Ham United in 2007, but as he struggled to make the first team at Upton Park he made loan moves to Watford and Sunderland.

He played eight games for us at the end of the 08-09 season, but in that summer, a stabbing incident put Davenport’s career under threat. It turned out Davenport’s last professional game had been for us, subsequently playing a few seasons of non-league.

Bolton Wanderers v Sunderland - Premier League
Calum Davenport
Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images


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