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Advantage Sunderland in desperate attempt to escape League One

Ross Stewart's goal gave Sunderland a narrow 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday in the play-off semi-finals ahead of Monday's second leg (Author: Gardener)

Advantage SunderlandSunderland's Ross Stewart shoves the rebound from a tight angle It was a Premier League crowd for a League One game, the biggest ever for a semi-final playoff game in England, as a crowd of 44,742 watched Sunderland secure promotion small step closer to league return Sunderland have never progressed beyond the play-offs and the weight of history weighs heavily on the club but they have given themselves a good chance of another trip to Wembley. Remarkably, it would be their fourth in four years as a League One club. Having lost just once in 16 games under Alex Neil and never traveled, chances are they'll get the job done Monday night. "Sounds easy doesn't it," laughed manager Neil. “I felt we were excellent to deal with such a high pressure situation. But we have the advantage going into the second leg.” However, Sheffield Wednesday is still in contention. On Monday night it will be their turn to benefit from a sold out crowd at Hillsborough. Sunderland have been waiting for a night like this since losing to Lincoln City in the play-offs a year ago. The fans are desperate to see the club climb the football pyramid again. It's a club waiting to take off; a club locked away in League One with a fanbase that will never accept they belong there. They spent four years in the third division, the lowest point in the history of this proud northern club. The club made it to the play-offs twice in the last three years and desperately hoped for a turnaround, failing twice. The phrase "happy for the third time" has never weighed so heavily. Sheffield Wednesday are just as big a club, just as important in the history of English football, but this is their first season in League One. You are new. When the stakes are high, the spectacle suffers. Neither manager, Darren More nor Alex Neil, worried about the entertainment. It was a game with few chances and very few shots on goal. Mutual caution resulted in a stalemate, as if two armies had become bogged down in heavy mud. It was an ugly first half but it ended well for Sunderland. An early chance from Patrick Roberts who followed a detour from Ross Stewart but the shot went straight to goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell. That changed just before halftime. However, Sam Hutchinson made a mess with his clearance and Stewart fell. He had a lot to do when he ran from the center circle to the goal. Plenty of time to think about what he would do. The first try didn't go to plan, his shot was too close to the keeper, but Peacock-Farrell didn't have control of the rebound, the ball spinning behind him, allowing Stewart to steer into the net from a tight angle. Ross Stewart's goal just before half-time was all that separated the teams. Sunderland had the lead but they had to try and build on that. They got closer in the second half. Alex Pritchard hit the bar with a curl dip shot and a Dennis Cirkin header went wide when he should have hit the target from six yards. A brilliant save from Peacock-Farrell tipped another Pritchard try over the bar, although Wednesday's goalkeeper gifted Stewart almost a second late. And it was Wednesday that ended the game looking strong but didn't put Anthony Patterson to work enough in the Sunderland goal.

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Darren Moore's honest verdict on Sheffield Wednesday's first-leg defeat by Sunderland

The Owls boss was impressed by the performance of his side's opponents but praised his own players for ensuring they are still tied (Author: Gardener)

Darren Moore'sDarren Moore was very honest in his assessment of Sheffield Wednesday's performance as they were beaten 1-0 by Sunderland in the first leg of the play-off semi-final. That makes the tie perfect for Monday night's second leg at Hillsborough, where the Owls will be confident of using their home field advantage to turn it on its head. Moore, as always, was very generous in his immediate reflection on the game, with praise for opponents as well as some criticism of his own players. "We knew it was going to be a difficult game today, it lived up to expectations," Wednesday's coach told Sky Sports. “They put a lot of pressure on us but credit to the lads, it was difficult for us to gain a foothold in the game because they pushed us relentlessly. Read more: Sunderland 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday player ratings as Alex Pritchard is the master of torture “I thought after about an hour, with the energy they put into the game, the pendulum then swung in our favor better in the second half Handle. But the first half was a wild pace, they played Sunderland so well, credit to my lads, they stayed tuned and we just had to make sure we stayed in the game, they did that tonight. The visitors hardly created a chance all evening and can consider themselves lucky to go into the second leg only one goal behind. "I just thought it was an overall good performance from them, but for us it was about staying in the game," he added. “It didn't get in the way of what we wanted to do on the ball tonight but Sunderland didn't let us do that tonight. "We have to try to get back into the game. If we want to take it back we have to play better than tonight. "We're going to watch the game tonight and look at areas where we could have been better and then we'll try to apply straight away on Monday." Both coaches are already preparing for the second leg at half-time.

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Sunderland had to settle for a narrow lead after Ross Stewart's goal

Ross Stewart scored his 25th goal of the season to give Sunderland a narrow advantage over Yorkshire in the second leg of this play-off semi-final (Author: Gardener)

Ross Stewart'sWe've determined that there is a problem with your subscription billing information. Please update your billing information here. The subscription information associated with this account needs to be updated. Please update your billing information here to continue enjoying your subscription. Please update your billing details here to continue having access to the UK's most informative and respected journalism. Sunderland had to settle for a narrow lead after Ross Stewart scored in this play-off semi-final on Monday night. Both groups of fans in a crowd of 44,742, an EFL play-off record, celebrated when the agonizing first half was over. Everything is really still open. Sunderland will rightly wonder how they don't gain a much bigger lead over Sheffield.

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Player Ratings as Alex Pritchard is Torturer-in-Chief against Wednesday

Ross Stewart scored the only goal of the game as Sunderland earned a hard-fought play-off semi-final first-leg win over Sheffield Wednesday (Author: Gardener)

WednesdayRoss Stewart scored the only goal of the game as Sunderland earned a hard-fought play-off semi-final first-leg win over Sheffield Wednesday. Get our FREE daily Sunderland newsletter emailed to your inbox by subscribing belowSomething went wrong, please try again later. Thanks for subscribing!We have more Newsletter Show me Sunderland will go into the second leg of the play-off semi-finals with a slim lead after beating Sheffield Wednesday at the Stadium of Light. Ross Stewart scored the only goal of the game in injury time at the end of the first half. Wednesday pressed late in the game but Sunderland held on. READ MORE: Recap Sunderland's win over Sheffield Wednesday, how it happened to side, helped set up goal and should have scored himself. Read the game well and control the midfield. Caused all sorts of problems from the right flank and produced a couple of saves from Peacock-Farrell Tortured the move that led to goal and later hit the bar throughout the evening. Quiet in the first half but better in the second Tor brought and Wednesday sometimes couldn't handle him For the latest Sunderland news straight to your inbox, click here to sign up for our free newsletter

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League One is the land of the fallen giants, where Sunderland and Co. rival Prem for crowds

There's a big game at the Stadium of Light on Friday night when Sheffield Wednesday take on Sunderland in the semi-final play-off. The Owls are watching (Author: Gardener)

SunderlandThere's a big game at the Stadium of Light on Friday night when Sheffield Wednesday take on Sunderland in the semi-final play-off. The Owls are looking to get back into the Championship on the first try while this is Sunderland's fourth season in England's third tier. From the Premier League to non-league football, since fans were allowed back onto grounds, millions of people have flocked to their local club to watch a game every weekend. Unlike other nations, Great Britain has a rich football tradition stretching back to its pyramid. Just look at League One. With the capacity to host more than 400,000 fans each week across its 20 clubs, participation in the third tier of English football rivals most leagues in the world. It is the land of fallen giants where clubs that were once considered Premier League regulars now reside. Here's the thing though, football fandom doesn't have an off switch - and those fans from the glory days went nowhere. Anyone who's seen Sunderland 'Til I Die will know exactly what we're talking about, but it's not just the Black Cats and their 49,000-seat Stadium of Light. Go further back in history and you will learn that Sheffield Wednesday were once among the biggest clubs in the country, winning the FA Cup three times and the old First Division four times. Even AFC Wimbledon and Wigan have won the FA Cup in their history. And just as they have done at Elland Road for almost 20 years, League One fans will continue to show up to help their clubs regain their former glory. Sunderland v Sheffield Wednesday in the League One play-offs can be seen live on talkSPORT on Friday night, kick-off is at 19.45

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Sunderland beat Sheff Wed in play-off first leg

Sunderland narrowly lead Sheffield with a League One play-off semi-first-leg win over Hillsborough on Wednesday. (Author: Gardener)

SheffRoss Stewart's goal gave Sunderland a narrow win over Sheffield Wednesday in the first leg of the League One play-off semi-finals. The Owls gave the hosts trouble in the last 20 minutes but failed to score. Wednesday is the home game for the second leg, which kicks off on Monday at 19:45 BST. Wycombe, who lead 2-0 against MK Dons in the other semi-final, plays their second leg on Sunday at the Stadium:MK. Regular-season games between the two had produced convincing home wins; 5-0 to Sunderland and 3-0 to Wednesday in return, but with so much at stake there could be no blow-out. These two heavyweights are stuck in the third tier with only one escape route via the play-offs, and there was a lot of anticipation, fear and expectation around the Stadium of Light on and off the field. That tension was palpable with 44,742 in the stands – a record attendance in the English Football League play-offs at all levels – although the home side calmed some nerves when Stewart scored at the end of a sluggish first half. Pritchard was the fulcrum where most of the Wearsiders' best work came about, dropping deep to connect midfield and attack while Patrick Roberts, Jack Clarke and Lynden Gooch provided distance to end the game to keep stretched. However, with a second leg still to come at the equally feverish Hillsborough, the Scot's late miss and a flurry of missed chances from Dennis Cirkin and Roberts midway through the second half could prove costly. With solid form and Sunderland enjoying most of the possession after a frenetic start, it seemed Darren Moores could have walked away unbeaten on Wednesday rather than chased a lead. Stewart's goal changed that plan, forcing them to attack more willingly, but their chief creator Barry Bannan remained mostly anonymous as he couldn't be brought into play on Wednesday. When he touched the ball he was immediately smothered by Sunderland markers. As the game progressed, Sunderland retreated deeper due to growing nervousness and eventually Wednesday untied the bonds but they eluded the crucial goal. "The only disappointment from our point of view was probably the fact that we didn't contribute to the goal. "Especially from half-time up to about the 75th minute we probably had two or three great chances to double the score and it certainly wouldn't have been more than we deserved at that point." would be a tough game. The disappointing things about the game for me were: Did we use the ball as well as we could? But at the same time give credit to Sunderland because they didn't let us do it. "They put a lot of energy into the game, they worked and they put pressure on us and they used the ball really, really well, so they played well. "It's a difficult place to come from. The game lived up to expectations, we had to be persistent. "We knew when we conceded, I told them at half-time, we don't have to concede again, do our job and make sure we stay in the game.

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Sunderland gain a narrow play-off lead over the Owls

Ross Stewart's 25th goal of the season gave Sunderland a 1-0 lead to defend against Sheffield Wednesday in the bid for a place in the League One play-off final. (Author: Gardener)

Ross Stewart'sRoss Stewart's 25th goal of the season gave Sunderland a 1-0 lead to defend against Sheffield Wednesday in the bid for a place in the League One play-off final. Alex Neil's men might have won more comfortably that night had it not been for Owl keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell when they also hit the crossbar and they still have work to do to make it to Wembley despite their have extended their unbeaten run to 14 games. Defender Danny Batth just missed getting Alex Pritchard's corner near the post as Wednesday was pinned deep in their own half in the early stages. The Owls made little impression as an attacking force, although Black Cats defender Bailey Wright had to make an important challenge in the 21st minute to deny Lee Gregory a goal run and the forward headed straight at keeper Anthony Patterson from a challenging angle for four minutes later. But it was Sunderland who took the lead in first-half injury time when Sam Hutchinson failed to get Cirkins ball over the top and Stewart sped away to score on the second try after Peacock-Farrell blocked his first try. Pritchard was unhappy after 52 minutes as he saw his shot come back off the bar with a battered Peacock-Farrell 52 minutes into the game, but the goalkeeper came up with fingertips on the midfielder's clipped shot three minutes later, with the home team was good at the top. Hutchinson was forced to block a goal-bound Roberts shot after working his way into the box, although Liam Palmer should have done better after being selected at the far post by Luongo and with 13 minutes remaining the visitors had their best time of the game , although it was ultimately futile as Stewart almost made it 2-0 on death.

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The Black Cats go into the second leg at Hillsborough with a narrow lead...

The second leg takes place at Hillsborough on Monday night... (Author: Gardener)

HillsboroughRoss Stewart scored the only goal as Sunderland beat Sheffield Wednesday in the first leg of the League One play-off semi-final. Sunderland got off to a brilliant start in front of 44,742 spectators as Patrick Roberts tested Peacock-Farrell with a fourth-minute shot after latching on to Stewart's knockdown and cutting inside. Defender Danny Batth just missed getting Alex Pritchard's corner near the post as Wednesday was pinned deep in their own half in the early stages. The Owls made little impression as an attacking force, although Black Cats defender Bailey Wright had to make an important challenge in the 21st minute to deny Lee Gregory a goal run and the forward headed straight at keeper Anthony Patterson from a challenging angle for four minutes later. Corry Evans screwed a left-footed shot wide of the edge after Roberts and Stewart connected well nine minutes before the break, but Patterson had to get off the line to collect Massimo Luongo's cross in front of Gregory after the midfielder went behind Full-back Dennis Zirkin entered. But it was Sunderland who took the lead in first-half injury time when Sam Hutchinson failed to get Cirkins ball over the top and Stewart sped away to score on the second try after Peacock-Farrell blocked his first try. Pritchard was unhappy after 52 minutes as he saw his shot come back off the bar with a battered Peacock-Farrell 52 minutes into the game, but the goalkeeper came up with fingertips on the midfielder's clipped shot three minutes later, with the home team was good at the top. Hutchinson was forced to block a goal-bound Roberts shot after working his way into the box, although Liam Palmer should have done better after being selected at the far post by Luongo and with 13 minutes remaining the visitors had their best time of the game , although it was ultimately futile as Stewart almost made it 2-0 on death. The article Sunderland 1-0 Sheff Weds: Black Cats narrowly ahead in Hillsborough second leg … appeared first on Football365.com.

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Sunderland beat Sheff Wed in the first leg of the play-offs

Sunderland beat Sheffield Wednesday in the Sky Bet League One play-off semi-finals with a 1-0 first-leg win at the Stadium of Light. (Author: Gardener)

SheffRoss Stewart celebrates with Sunderland team-mates after a goal against Sheffield Wednesday Sunderland beat Sheffield Wednesday in the Sky Bet League One play-off semi-final with a 1-0 first-leg win at the Stadium of Light. Ross Stewart scored the only goal just before half-time on Friday night, giving the Black Cats a slight advantage in the tie. How the teams lined up | Match Stats Get Sky Sports | Important play-off dates There is still work to be done on Wednesday if they are to reach Wembley ahead of Monday night's second leg at Hillsborough. How Sunderland mastered the first leg Roared at by a huge crowd - 44,742 fans ensured a record attendance at an EFL play-off semi-final - Sunderland upped the pressure in the first half as they tried to capitalize on home advantage - but it wasn't until at half-time and a mistake by Sam Hutchinson to deliver the opener. His midway error allowed Stewart to fall and run through, finishing for the second time after Bailey Peacock-Farrell repelled his first attempt. Sunderland continued to press after the break and came close to scoring a second through Pritchard on a couple of occasions - when he hit the bar in the 52nd minute and forced a fine save from Peacock-Farrell four minutes later. Wednesday soon grew into the game and began to put pressure on the Sunderland defense but they came so close to conceding a crucial second in the 89th minute when a Peacock-Farrell error created a great opportunity for Stewart but he could only shoot wide. Analysis: "Sunderland will be happy" "I think Sunderland will be happy. You always want to win the home game in the play-offs.” Sunderland were strong early in the second half and when they took their chances they managed it could have been two or three. "You've seen what Sheffield Wednesday has to offer. You'll need that again on Monday night." Man of the Match - Ross Stewart It was great to score just before half-time as it started the break. “I thought we were professional in the second half and was unlucky not to get another. The second leg takes place on Sky Sports Football at Hillsborough on Monday night from 19:30 with kick-off at 19:45.

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Ross Stewart gives the Black Cats an advantage after the first leg of the Sky Bet League One play-off semifinals

Report and free match highlights from the Sky Bet League One Playoff Semi-Final first leg between Sunderland and Sheffield Wednesday at the Stadium of Light as Ross Stewart scored the winning goal for the Black Cats. (Author: Gardener)

Ross StewartSunderland beat Sheffield Wednesday in the Sky Bet League One play-off semi-finals with a 1-0 first-leg win at the Stadium of Light. Ross Stewart scored the only goal just before half-time on Friday night, giving the Black Cats a slight advantage in the tie. There is still work to be done on Wednesday if they are to reach Wembley ahead of Monday night's second leg at Hillsborough. Cheered on by a massive crowd - as 44,742 fans set an attendance record for an EFL play-off semi-final - Sunderland upped the pressure in the first half as they tried to capitalize on home advantage - but it lasted until half-time and one Error by Sam Hutchinson to provide the opener. His midway error allowed Stewart to fall and run through, finishing for the second time after Bailey Peacock-Farrell repelled his first attempt. Sunderland continued to press after the break and came close to scoring a second through Pritchard on a couple of occasions - when he hit the bar in the 52nd minute and forced a fine save from Peacock-Farrell four minutes later. Wednesday soon grew into the game and began to put pressure on the Sunderland defense but they came so close to conceding a crucial second in the 89th minute when a Peacock-Farrell error created a great opportunity for Stewart but he could only shoot wide. Sunderland's Alex Neil: "We gained home advantage ahead of the second leg. I thought we were totally dominant and we're disappointed that we didn't contribute to the points. "I thought we were brilliant, really did. But I thought the players dealt with it brilliantly." Darren Moore of Sheffield Wednesday: "We knew today was going to be a tough game and it lived up to our expectations. They put us under a lot of pressure but respect to the lads because it was difficult to get a foothold in the game. "The first half was wild, they played Sunderland so well. We just had to make sure we stayed in the game and we did that tonight. "I think Sunderland will be happy. In the playoffs you always want to win the home game. “Sunderland came out strong early in the second half and if they had taken their chances it could have been two or three. This game is far from over.” You've seen what Sheffield Wednesday has to offer. Sunderland have had an excellent defense since Alex Neil came on. They'll need that again on Monday night.” To score just before half-time was great as it gave us the platform for the break. “I thought we were second half professionally in the season and was unlucky not to get another. Tonight it was all about getting the win." The second leg takes place on Monday night from 19:30 on Sky Sports Football in Hillsborough, with kick-off at 19:45.

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