The brilliant story of the day as Sunderland finally win at Wembley - as Lynden Gooch's strike downs Tranmere Rovers
Sunderland have finally won at Wembley – after beating Tranmere Rovers in the Papa John’s Trophy final.
The Black Cats hadn’t won at Wembley since 1973 but ended that long wait today after beating League Two Tranmere Rovers.
Lee Johnson’s side entered the game in a rich vein of form and are now unbeaten in nine games in all competitions.
And Sunderland were bolstered by the return of some key players from injury, although were without the likes of Dion Sanderson and Carl Winchester who were cup-tied and are were left sweating on Aiden O’Brien and Jordan Jones.
But in Tranmere they faced another in-form side and one who possess a number of talented individuals. Indeed, Keith Hill’s side have already sprung some shocks in the Papa John’s Trophy this term were targeting another at Wembley.
Our team were at the national stadium to bring you comprehensive coverage of the game throughout the day as Sunderland target a trophy.
FT: Sunderland AFC 1-0 Tranmere Rovers (Gooch 58)
Last updated: Sunday, 14 March, 2021, 14:26
- Sunderland face Tranmere Rovers in the final of the Papa John’s Trophy (kick-off 3pm).
- The Black Cats are looking to win at Wembley for the first time since 1973 and end their long-running hoodoo at the national stadium.
- Lee Johnson is sweating on the fitness Jordan Jones and Aiden O’Brien, but could welcome back Grant Leadbitter and Conor McLaughlin.
- SAFC XI: Burge, Power, O’Nien, Flanagan, McFadzean, Scowen, Leadbitter, Gooch, McGeady, Maguire, Wyke
Live Wembley coverage - sponsored by SafeSeal NE
The sun is shining on Wembley Way - and the sun always shines on cup final day!
It’s the 2021 Papa John’s Trophy final, and Sunderland are set for another trip to the national stadium - looking to win at Wembley for the first time since 1973.
Confidence is high as Lee Johnson’s side enter the game on the back of a superb run of results, but they face a Tranmere Rovers side in equally impressive form.
It’s sure to be an intriguing - and at times nerve-wracking, no doubt - afternoon, and you can follow it all here...
How did we get to Wembley?
Sunderland’s run to the final has had no shortage of drama - with penalty shoout-outs, high-scoring affairs and even the odd inelgible players thrown in for good measure!
Here’s a reminder of how we got to this stage...
Drama, debuts and delight: The story of Sunderland's road to Wembley as they prepare for Papa John's Trophy final
From thumping victories to tense shoot-outs - it’s been some journey for Sunderland in the Papa John’s Trophy this term.
Tranmere Rovers are confident of springing a shock, says Keith Hill
And it’s no surprise given their fine run of form.
The Prenton Park side have lost just one of their last seven games in all competitions - and have beaten the likes of Peterborough United and Oxford United en route to Wembley.
So while manager Hill says they will respect the Black Cats today, they enter the game confident of causing an upset.
From a confidence point of view, it’s brilliant knowing that we can win games against any opposition and we are confident with due respect to Sunderland, they are an excellent side who have got an excellent manager.
We have got to show desire, determination and effort, and those characteristics and you’re preparing your team to win a football match, and that’s preparing the players, working with them, and building relationships.
It’s about preparing the team for the opposition tactically and supporting the players, but when you get to the Final, you have to be ready.
It was a strange night in Trafalgar Square last night...
Where should have stood 40,000 Wearsiders were skateboarders, security staff and scaffolding.
But Sunderland were still represented in the capital - and that tells you everything you need to know about the passion and commitment of these fans.
This was never just about 90 minutes of football
Four under-23 players have travelled with Sunderland ahead of the final
The Black Cats will be without a number of key players for the game against Tranmere Rovers, with Bailey Wright ruled-out and Jordan Jones and Aiden O’Brien both doubts.
And with Dion Sanderson, Jake Vokins and Carl Winchester all cup-tied, a number of under-23 players have travelled with the squad for the big game.
Lee Johnson has brought Oliver Younger, Anthony Patterson, Benji Kimpioka and Josh Hawkes into the fold for the final and all four have travelled south with the squad on Saturday.
However, there is no guarantee that the quartet will be involved in the match day squad – and they may have just been brought for the experience.
But with Sunderland’s current injury situation, it’s likely that at least one of the four will be involved in some capacity in the squad at Wembley.
What are the odds for Sunderland v Tranmere Rovers?
SkyBet have Sunderland as favourites to win at Wembley today, and they can be backed to win in 90 minutes at 4/6.
Tranmere to win in the same time period is 9/2, while a draw at the end of normal time is 5/2.
The Black Cats are just 1/3 to lift the Papa John’s Trophy no matter how they win, while Tranmere are 9/4 in the same market.
And there’s no surprise when it comes to first goalscorer - Charlie Wyke is the favourite to net first at 5/2.
Today really matters for Sunderland - according to Lee Johnson
He wants this to be the start of something great for the club - and is determined to lift the trophy this afternoon.
Ultimately it’s about the players and I believe in our squad.
What I want for them is, OK it might be a small part in a big history of the football club, but make no mistake in 20, 30 years time you are a successful squad because you won.
And when their pictures are up in the academy because Jack Diamond and other players involved have come through the youth system.
It would show that OK, this is a new dawn.
How can I watch Sunderland v Tranmere Rovers? Is there a live stream?
Today’s fixture will be broadcast on Sky Sports Football, with the broadcast beginning at 2:45pm. Sky are yet to confirm which pundits will cover the game.
The game will also be able to stream via Now TV, but will not be available on SAFC.com or via iFollow.
A rule refresher...
The Papa John’s Trophy is a competition with no shortage of quirks!
But mercifully, the rules that govern the rest of the tournament will apply to the final – with one notable exception.
If the scores are level at 90 minutes, then a half-an-hour period of extra time will be played before penalties.
Penalties will be taken in the traditional ABAB format.
In previous rounds, there was no period of extra time – as Sunderland found out in their semi-final triumph over Lincoln.
What’s the latest Sunderland and Tranmere Rovers team news?
Here’s how the squads are shaping-up ahead of Wembley...
The Black Cats are sweating on the fitness of Aiden O’Brien and Jordan Jones, both of whom were set to undergo late fitness tests on Saturday to see if they could feature at Wembley.
Lee Johnson is already without the likes of Bailey Wright, Denver Hume, Jordan Willis, Arbenit Xhemajli and Ross Stewart for the big game - but could welcome back Grant Leadbitter and Conor McLaughlin.
The pair have travelled to London having trained this week and could be invovled.
Dion Sanderson, Carl Winchester and Jake Vokins will all miss out as they are cup-tied.
Tranmere will be without their top scorer in James Vaughan, who had an operation this week and will miss the final.
Keith Hill also won’t be able to call upon Otis Khan and Sid Nelson for the game.
Our team are in place at Wembley!
BREAKING: THE TEAM NEWS IS IN!
And here’s how Sunderland line-up at Wembley: Burge; Power, Flanagan, O’Nien, McFadzean; Leadbitter, Scowen, McGeady, Maguire; Gooch, Wyke
And on the bench: Matthews, McLaughlin, Kimpioka, Diamond, Neil, Stewart, Younger
So that’s four changes from the win at Portsmouth - as Flanagan, Leadbiter, Gooch and Maguire replace Jones, O’Brien, Sanderson and Winchester.
On the bench, meanwhile, there’s a place for January signing Ross Stewart!