With 10 games and thirty points to play for, not to mention the Checkatrade Trophy Final, Sunderland are heading into the final straight of the 2018/19 Sky Bet League One season.
Jack Ross and his coaching staff entered the season with only 10 senior players and have managed to turn around the fortunes of a Sunderland side that have suffered a double relegation from the Premier League to League One.
The side have also lost just twice this season and have a cup final against Portsmouth at Wembley to look forward to.
So, let’s assess the remaining 11 fixtures of our season…
Luton Town currently lead the way in League One and their ruthless performances have seen them open up five-point gap at the top.
Barnsley currently sit ahead of the Black Cats, however, our game in hand will likely be crucial in determining which side gets promoted.
Portsmouth were the early frontrunners but have come off the boil with just two wins in their last 11 games and now sit on the outside of the promotion places.
Charlton are sat four points behind Sunderland and have surely sealed their place in the play-offs.
Below them, surprise package Doncaster Rovers occupy the final playoff spot though Peterborough United, Blackpool and Coventry City remain on their coat tails.
Saturday 16th March – Walsall (Home)
Walsall are the visitors to the Stadium of Light this weekend and they will be hoping to continue their good record against Sunderland this season. They have two draws and a victory to their name in the games we have played in league and cup.
The Saddlers are desperately clawing onto their League One status and sit just a few points above the drop zone despite their great start to the season.
Sunday 31st March – Checkatrade Trophy Final – Portsmouth
The Sunderland fans #WontBeHomeForTea for this one as we face Portsmouth in the Checkatrade Trophy Final at Wembley Stadium. Both sides are expected to bring huge supports to Wembley with the game already a sell out from those of a red and white persuasion. A victory would give Sunderland their first Wembley victory since the 1973 FA Cup final.
Wednesday 3rd April – Accrington Stanley (Away)
Sunderland will finally get the chance of replaying Accrington Stanley after our encounter earlier this season was abandoned with the score at 1-1 late into the game because of monsoon like conditions at the Crown Ground. Accrington took a point away from the Stadium of Light in our other encounter this season.
Saturday 6th April – Rochdale (Away)
One of Sunderland’s more dominant performances this season came against Rochdale at the Stadium of Light where we won by a score of 4-1. Dale are currently third bottom in League One and are fighting to keep their status in League One so this should be a huge game for both sides.
Tuesday 9th April – Burton Albion (Home)
Sunderland begin a run of three straight home games against Burton and the likelihood is that our season will be defined by how many points we pick up on this run.
Last season, Burton Albion relegated Sunderland at the Stadium of Light thanks to two late goals. This season, Sunderland could put themselves on course for promotion back to the Championship if they can overcome the Brewers at home. Burton are one of only a handful of sides who have little to play for since they are safe from relegation but not in with a chance of the playoffs.
Saturday 13th April – Coventry City (Home)
It is likely that Coventry will be fighting for a place in the play-offs at this stage if they keep up their current form and Sunderland will no doubt be in for a big game in what is likely to be one of our bigger crowds of the season. We drew 1-1 earlier in the season at Coventry.
Friday 19th April – Doncaster Rovers (Home)
Our second last home game of the season comes against Doncaster Rovers on Good Friday. Donny, like our opponents the previous week, will be fighting for their place in the play-offs. This game is an evening kick off which could put pressure on both sides as all the other games that day will have been played.
Monday 22nd April – Peterborough United (Away)
Peterborough were one of the early contenders for automatic promotion but have since tailed off and changed their manager. They are currently on the outside of the play-offs, but a good run could easily see them playing play-off football in May.
Saturday 27th April – Portsmouth (Home)
Our final home game of the season could be the biggest of the season as we entertain Portsmouth in what will surely be one of our biggest crowds of the season. Pompey could be in with a shout of automatic promotion at this point if they find their early season form and all of Luton, Barnsley and Sunderland stumble through the final games of the season. This game always looked like it would be important when the fixtures were released – and it looks like it will live up to that billing.
Tuesday 30th April – Fleetwood Town (Away)
A side story of Sunderland’s season has been that we have always had games in hand on those around us. This game could be a determining factor in whether we have anything to play for on the final day against Southend. A win could see us in the driving seat for promotion, but a defeat may condemn us to the play-offs. Either way – this is likely to be a huge game.
Saturday 4th May – Southend United (Away)
The final game of the season sees us travel to Roots Hall in what could be anything from a party celebration to a resignation of playing in the play-offs. At the moment, it looks like this could be a rollercoaster of a day with fans checking their phones for updates throughout the afternoon.
Luton Town: Gillingham (H), Doncaster (H), Bristol Rovers (A), Blackpool (H), Charlton (A), Accrington Stanley (A), Wimbledon (H), Burton Albion (A), Oxford United (H)
Barnsley: Doncaster (A), Walsall (A), Coventry (H), Burton Albion (A), Fleetwood (H), Shrewsbury (H), Plymouth (A), Blackpool (H), Bristol Rovers (A)
Portsmouth: Scunthorpe (H), Shrewsbury (A), SAFC (Wembley), Wycombe (A), Rochdale (H), Burton (A), Coventry (H), SAFC (A), Peterborough (H), Accrington Stanley (H)