Memories of Sunderland’s best ever play-off semi finals

Marco's clincher against Newcastle.
Marco's clincher against Newcastle.
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The drama, excitement and – hopefully – elation of the play-off semi-finals is almost upon us.

Will it be glory this time, just as it was back in 1990 when we beat Newcastle United in one of Sunderland’s most famous matches.

Michael Gray congratulates Allan Johnston on his goal.

Michael Gray congratulates Allan Johnston on his goal.

Or how about 1998 when Sunderland overcame Sheffield United to reach Wembley.

No-one will forget either day.

There was the first leg at Roker Park tie in 1990 where a late Sunderland penalty led to drama when Paul Hardyman’s shot was saved by Newcastle keeper John Burridge.

But in the return leg at St James’s Park, it was Gates and Gabbiadini who bagged a goal apiece to send Sunderland fans wild with joy.

The fans congratulate the Sunderland team on an amazing effort.

The fans congratulate the Sunderland team on an amazing effort.

And who can forget the late one-two which led to Gabbiadini bagging a clincher with five minutes left.

Then in 1998, there was the day when Sunderland reversed a first leg deficit to win 3-2 on aggregate against Sheffield United. There were highlights such as Kevin Phillips bagging his 34th of the season to put Sunderland 2-0 up on the night.

There was Allan Johnston making the breakthrough to get the home team on the scoresheet.

Or maybe it was Lionel Perez with an amazing double save to preserve Sunderland’s lead which was your highlight of a special evening.

Kevin Ball applauds the fans for their support.

Kevin Ball applauds the fans for their support.

Some still regard it as the night when the Stadium of Light enjoyed its best ever atmosphere. What do you think?

As we get ready for the visit of Portsmouth, tell us which was your favourite play-off experience.

And will Sunderland enjoy another night of play-off success this weekend?

Share your memories of play-off successes gone by and your hopes for Saturday’s big match.

Get in touch by emailing chris.cordner@jpimedia.co.uk