Sunderland’s young guns the key to Black Cats gaining Play-Off place

Sunderland became the first newly promoted Championship side in eight years to make the Play-Offs following a remarkable 3-0 win against Preston North End.

Almost 6,000 supporters made the trip to Deepdale to cheer on Tony Mowbray’s youthful team and second half goals from Amad Diallo, Alex Pritchard and Jack Clarke led the Black Cats’ to a precious victory.

However, It was Mowbray’s former club, Blackburn, who did Sunderland a huge favour after Rovers’ remarkable 4-3 comeback win against Milwall meant that Sunderland snatched the final Play-Off spot, with Millwall falling at the final hurdle.

The Black Cats’ begin their Play-Off campaign with the first leg of their semi-final against Luton Town at the Stadium of Light on Saturday 13th May, with tickets currently on sale to season card holders.

The two previous meetings between these sides finished level at 1-1, with Sunderland equalising late in the second-half on both occasions.

Since 2015, every Championship Play-Off winning team has won at least four of their final six games of the season- and with Sunderland being only side to have achieved that this season- they will be hoping that history can repeat itself.

The Black Cats’ have also fielded the youngest average starting eleven across the entirety of the Championship this season.

Alan Hansen once historically said ‘you can’t win anything with kids’ but Tony Mowbray’s inexperienced team could disprove him and- on current form- you would not bet against them.

In-fact, Sunderland’s youngest starting team this season was an average of just 22 and started in their vital 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion last month.

Conversely, Wigan Athletic fielded the oldest starting eleven in the league, 30, which started during their 3-1 defeat to Cardiff City back in October.

The Latics’ finished the season rooted to the bottom of the table, with a 24th place finish resulting in their relegation to League One.

Sunderland could now be just three matches away from a return to the Premier League, with Michael Carrick’s Middlesbrough team facing Coventry City in the other Play-Off semi-final.