Confusion over Patrick Roberts' Sunderland substitution, Barry Bannan's dramatic Sheffield Wednesday arrival plus Darren Moore's hidden instruction: Moments you may have missed

Given how regularly Sunderland and Sheffield Wednesday have played with a back three and wing-backs recently, it seemed inevitable they would do so again for the first leg of their League One play-off semi-final. Alex Neil was one step ahead, though.

Saturday, 7th May 2022, 12:45 pm

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The Black Cats boss set up his side in what looked more like a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Lynden Gooch at right-back, and the tactical change appeared to catch the visitors out at the Stadium of Light.

Ross Stewart’s goal on the stroke of half time gave Sunderland a lead they deserved at the interval, prompting Owls boss Darren Moore to try and match the hosts up in the second half.

Wednesday brought on Josh Windass for Saido Berahino in the 56th minute and altered their system to play with a back four, with defender Sam Hutchinson playing at the base of a midfield diamond.

Patrick Roberts playing for Sunderland against Sheffield Wednesday. Picture by Frank Reid

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The move failed to have the desired effect, with Moore quickly altering his team’s set-up again. The Wednesday boss tried to shield his message from the dugout while instructing the visitors to revert to a five, making a signal with his hand across his chest.

Here are some of the other moments you may have missed:

Barry Bannan’s dramatic arrival

Talk in the build-up was centred around Wednesday captain Barry Bannan and whether he would be fit for the match.

The feeling was he would be able to start – and he was – yet the 32-year-old was the last Owls player to walk off the team bus, prompting cheers from a few visiting fans who were already in place at the Stadium of Light.

Bannan wasn’t able to have the impact he would have been hoping for as he registered just 47 touches (according to Whoscored.com). Seven Sunderland players completed more.

The Wednesday captain remains a key player for the second leg, though.

Jack Clarke tripped

Stewart’s goal just before half time was crucial, as the Scot was left to run through on goal by himself.

The striker showed excellent persistence to pinch the ball off Hutchinson before reacting first when goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell saved the initial effort.

Yet Stewart would have received more support if Jack Clarke hadn’t been tripped by Wednesday defender Jordan Storey near the halfway line, taking the Sunderland winger out of the attack.

It worked out well in the end and the Stadium of Light erupted when Stewart finally converted the chance.

Late substitutions

Neil left it until the 80th minute to make his first substitutions, with Jay Matete and Elliot Embleton coming on to provide fresh legs.

At that point Wednesday were applying some late pressure to try and get back on level terms, yet the hosts’ defence stood firm.

Initially it was announced that Alex Pritchard, who appeared to have little left in the tank after recently returning from an injury setback, and Jack Clarke would be making way, yet the latter then stayed on as Patrick Roberts was withdrawn instead.

After a moment of confusion, it was quickly resolved.

Clarke was taken off 10 minutes later as Callum Doyle was introduced in stoppage-time to provide more defensive cover.

The Black Cats will take a 1-0 lead to Hillsborough on Monday.