The number of weeks Sunderland have spent in the League One automatic promotion places ahead of crunch Barnsley clash

Sunderland have been flirting with the automatic promotion zone in League One all season - but how long have they actually spent in the top two?

Monday, 11th March 2019, 8:48 am
Updated Monday, 11th March 2019, 10:23 am
How many weeks have Jack Ross' Sunderland spent in the League One top two?

The Black Cats were tipped by many to gain an immediate return to the Championship this season and could still do so, as they sit just four points outside the top two ahead of a pivotal clash with Barnsley tomorrow.

But while they may be within touching distance of the automatic promotion places, they have spent little time actually in the top two this campaign.

How many weeks have Jack Ross' Sunderland spent in the League One top two?

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We crunched the numbers to see where the Black Cats had spent the majority of the 2018/19 season, and the results may come as little surprise to supporters.

As shown in the graphic below, Sunderland have spent just five weeks in League One's top two during the campaign - and have never once sat top of the third tier.

However, Jack Ross' side have never slipped below 7th position - and that lowly position was only attained during the first two weeks of the season when the table was still taking shape.

Sunderland's League One positions, week-by-week

The Wearsiders first climbed into the top two in week five of the season following a 2-1 triumph at AFC Wimbledon, but quickly slipped down to fourth following the home draw with Oxford United.

Sunderland remained outside the automatic places - alternating between third and fourth positions - until week 16, when an Aiden McGeady-inspired triumph at Plymouth Argyle propelled them back into the top two.

But after a series of rearranged fixtures, Ross' troops slipped outside the top two in week 20 - despite beating Bristol Rovers during that period.

And since then, the Black Cats have not been able to return to the automatic promotion places, although they could take a big step towards retaining their lofty position should they claim victory at Oakwell on Tuesday evening.