Everything Sunderland legend said about dramatic play-off win, Alex Neil and complacency plus warning to Sheffield Wednesday and Wycombe verdict

Kevin Phillips has warned Alex Neil and Sunderland not to get complacent.

Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 9:00 am
Kevin Phillips
Kevin Phillips

The Black Cats reached the League One play-off final after getting past Sheffield Wednesday on Monday night after Patrick Roberts scored a dramatic stoppage-time equaliser to put the Black Cats 2-1 ahead on aggregate.

It came after Wednesday striker Lee Gregory levelled the score, and the match looked set to go to extra-time before Roberts’ late finish.

But ex-Sunderland star Kevin Phillips has warned Sunderland against complacency with his former club set to face Wycombe Wanderers in the final at Wembley Stadium later this month.

Speaking after the game to Sky Sports, Phillips said: “They showed a bit of everything to get through the tie. They showed heart, spirit, defending as a unit and individually. Everything you need to get through a football match and then again, you need quality and Sunderland have that in abundance.

“Patrick Roberts, Clarke, Pritchard, Broadhead, Ross Stewart, who is a fantastic goal scorer. So they have got the balance of the squad really, really well.

“Bailey [Wright] is a rejuvenated player under Alex Neil. The components have all come together and they have hit form at the right time but they can’t get complacent.

“They have done the hard part in getting to the final. Enjoy tonight, rightly so and they get ready and they start preparing for a week Saturday, which is so important.

“You don’t want to go there and let them down because I have been there with Sunderland and it is horrible to lose in a play-off final.

“But believe me, when you do win a play-off final it is one of the best ways to get promoted and I hope these guys feel that on the 21st.”

Sunderland will face Gareth Ainsworth’s Wycombe Wanderers at Wembley for a chance to return to the Championship four seasons after the Wearsiders dropped into League One.

Wycombe Wanderers defeated MK Dons in their semi-final and have won promotion previously through the play-offs under Ainsworth.

Sunderland defeated the Chairboys 3-1 at the Stadium of Light back in August with the return fixture at Adams Park in January ending in a pulsating 3-3 draw.

Phillips continued: “Sunderland have been through so much these past four seasons and it is probably a lesson Sheffield Wednesday can learn.

"Just because you are a big club doesn’t mean you’re going to get out of it. Sunderland have been stuck in it for four years.

"They have another opportunity to get out of it but it will be a tough, tough match. Everyone will make Sunderland the favourites. They will take probably double the amount of fans to Wembley that Wycombe will but that doesn’t mean anything.

"Gareth Ainsworth will have those Wycombe players up for the game. Sunderland have to re-group and dust themselves down.

"When these moments come around, you have to enjoy them. So definitely go and have a beer tonight, enjoy tonight and tomorrow, but come back in and refocus to go again.