100s of titles, one news app for just $10 a month.
Dive Deeper:
Ross Stewart's goal gives Sunderland crucial play-off advantage against Sheffield Wednesday
Sunderland will take a narrow 1-0 lead to Hillborough for the second leg of their play-off semi-final
Sunderland fans react to 'brilliant' first leg play-off win against Sheffield Wednesday
Ross Stewart's first-half goal gave the Black Cats a vital advantage heading into Monday night's second leg
Sunderland have one foot in the play-off final - but Sheffield Wednesday are still alive
Sunderland hold a deserved advantage going into the semi-final second leg, but they still have to finish the job
Sunderland vs Sheffield Wednesday team news as Nathan Broadhead misses out but Dennis Cirkin returns
Alex Neil has named his Black Cats starting XI for tonight's League One play-off semi-final first leg against Darren Moore's…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Sunderland 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday player ratings as Alex Pritchard is torturer-in-chief
Ross Stewart scored the only goal of the game as Sunderland earned a hard-fought play-off semi-final first leg win against…
Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 Sunderland (agg: 1-2): League One playoff semi-final – as it happened
Patrick Roberts’ dramatic injury-time goal shattered Wednesday and put Sunderland into a playoff final against Wycombe Wanderers
Get all your news in one place
Latest Sport news:
Newcastle Olympic put five past Maitland in much-needed win: NPLW NNSW round 9
Jemma House made her return.
Read news from The Economist, FT, Bloomberg and more, with one subscription
Learn More
'Very Happy' Mbappe Snubs Real Madrid to Stay at PSG
Kylian Mbappe said he was "very happy" to stay at Paris Saint-Germain after the club announced that the World Cup…
Runner Collapses, Dies after Brooklyn Half-Marathon
A 30-year-old man crossing the finish line at the Brooklyn Half Marathon collapsed and died Saturday morning, officials in New…
Winton Supercars: Waters pips van Gisbergen in finale
Cam Waters held off a hard-charging Shane van Gisbergen to take a second win from three Supercars races at Winton.
Indy 500: Sato, Grosjean, Johnson into top 12 fight
Takuma Sato had a wild ride into Sunday’s Indy 500 pole battle and he’ll face rookies Romain Grosjean and Jimmie…
From analysis to good news, read the world’s best news in one place
2022 F1 Spanish Grand Prix – How to watch, start time & more
Formula 1 is in Barcelona this weekend for the sixth round of the 2022 season. Here's how you can watch…
YRHC Celebrated The Two-Stroke Era At 2022 ASI Motoshow
At the 2022 Automotoclub Storico Italiano Motoshow, the Yamaha Racing Heritage Club brought out historic two-strokes and legendary racers to…

Sunderland’s Stewart taps in for playoff lead against Sheffield Wednesday

By Louise Taylor at the Stadium of Light
Ross Stewart reacted after his initial shot deflected off Wednesday’s goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell, and tapped in the loose ball.
Ross Stewart reacted after his initial shot deflected off Wednesday’s goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell, and tapped in the loose ball. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Sunderland’s former owner Sir Bob Murray once likened the team’s home to a fabulous theatre, filled with wonderful audiences who were consistently let down by some awful actors.

Alex Neil’s players are striving to prove exceptions to that rule and did not disappoint a crowd of 44,742 at the Stadium of Light. It was a record attendance for an English Football League playoff semi-final and the majority present delighted in watching Ross Stewart give Sunderland a slender advantage ahead of Monday night’s second leg in South Yorkshire.

Granted, after a slow start, the Wearsiders should have extended their lead during a much improved second half but, much as Sheffield Wednesday harbour genuine hope of turning the tie around, Neil has tightened his defence appreciably in recent weeks. Anthony Patterson, the home goalkeeper, was not required to make a single serious save.

“I thought we were excellent in such a phenomenal, high pressure, atmosphere,” said Neil. “I’m just disappointed we didn’t score more. We controlled the game. Our defensive structure has been excellent for quite a few games now. I’m confident. This club’s potential is why I came here.”

Darren Moore, Wednesday’s manager, declined to attend the post-match press conference but sent a one sentence quote: “We just had to make sure we stayed in the game,” he said. “And that’s what we’ve done.”

Two hours before kick-off the amount of traffic slowing to a crawl on the stadium’s main approach roads felt reminiscent of the days when Sunderland were a Premier League club. By the time the game actually got under way, and hope and fear collided in the minds of supporters of two of England’s dozier sleeping giants, the atmosphere was electric.

In the 16 games since Neil succeeded the sacked Lee Johnson Sunderland have lost only once yet Wednesday initially, deceptively, looked more composed. Barry Bannan used his intelligence, experience and sheer nous to slow things down in midfield, persistently frustrating the home team’s attempts to build tempo and momentum.

If Moore could be pleased with the way in which his team retained their 3-5-2 shape for much of the first half, Neil must have been disappointed with Sunderland’s failure to make the most of plentiful possession by properly testing Bailey Peacock-Farrell’s reflexes.

With Sam Hutchinson, once of Chelsea, making some important early interceptions in his role as the left-sided component of Moore’s defensive trinity and his teammates evidently conscious that there was no point in taking too many risks ahead of the return leg at Hillsborough, an early stalemate set in.

Ross Stewart shows his delight after scoring the only goal.
Ross Stewart shows his delight after scoring the only goal. Photograph: Robbie Jay Barratt/AMA/Getty Images

It started to turn elements of the crowd slightly impatient before wholesale nervousness briefly intruded as Wednesday’s Liam Palmer crossed in Lee Gregory’s direction. In the event Gregory failed to make a true connection and Patterson gathered easily but perhaps that near miss galvanised Sunderland because, very shortly afterwards, they assumed a morale bolstering lead.

With half-time beckoning a suddenly strangely hesitant Hutchinson appeared to get his feet in a horrible, uncharacteristic, tangle as he attempted to make a routine clearance near the halfway line and , sensing opportunity, Stewart seized the moment, pinching possession from the mortified defender.

It left the striker clean through accelerating towards goal and, although Peacock-Farrell saved his initial shot, Stewart made no mistake in steering the rebound home from a tight angle. The celebratory roar was so loud it could probably be heard 15 miles up the road in Newcastle.

Stewart’s 25th goal of the season seemed to infuse his teammates with new found adrenaline and confidence and early in the second period Alex Pritchard, once of Tottenham, sent a shot bending and dipping on to the crossbar.

With Patrick Roberts, once a Manchester City winger, now de-stabilising Wednesday’s rearguard almost at will, the suddenly busy Peacock-Farrell tipped another Pritchard shot to safety while Danny Batth went close with a header. Moore replaced the near anonymous Saido Berahino with Josh Windass in attack but still Sunderland dominated. Yet although Roberts directed a swerving shot fractionally wide and, in a rare home panic, Danny Batth was required to head Bannan’s stoppage-time corner clear, there were to be no more goals at the ground Murray built.

What is inkl?
The world’s most important news, from 100+ trusted global sources, in one place.
Morning Edition
Your daily
news overview

Morning Edition ensures you start your day well informed.

No paywalls, no clickbait, no ads
Enjoy beautiful reading

Content is only half the story. The world's best news experience is free from distraction: ad-free, clickbait-free, and beautifully designed.

Expert Curation
The news you need to know

Stories are ranked by proprietary algorithms based on importance and curated by real news journalists to ensure that you receive the most important stories as they break.

Dive Deeper:
Ross Stewart's goal gives Sunderland crucial play-off advantage against Sheffield Wednesday
Sunderland will take a narrow 1-0 lead to Hillborough for the second leg of their play-off semi-final
Sunderland fans react to 'brilliant' first leg play-off win against Sheffield Wednesday
Ross Stewart's first-half goal gave the Black Cats a vital advantage heading into Monday night's second leg
Sunderland have one foot in the play-off final - but Sheffield Wednesday are still alive
Sunderland hold a deserved advantage going into the semi-final second leg, but they still have to finish the job
Sunderland vs Sheffield Wednesday team news as Nathan Broadhead misses out but Dennis Cirkin returns
Alex Neil has named his Black Cats starting XI for tonight's League One play-off semi-final first leg against Darren Moore's…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Sunderland 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday player ratings as Alex Pritchard is torturer-in-chief
Ross Stewart scored the only goal of the game as Sunderland earned a hard-fought play-off semi-final first leg win against…
Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 Sunderland (agg: 1-2): League One playoff semi-final – as it happened
Patrick Roberts’ dramatic injury-time goal shattered Wednesday and put Sunderland into a playoff final against Wycombe Wanderers
Get all your news in one place