League One Play-Off Semi-Final Second Leg Preview: Wembley Awaits
After two nail-biting first legs for those in attendance, the four teams involved in the League One Play-Off semi-Ffnal must get ready to go again. Sunderland travel to Portsmouth with a slender one-goal advantage. Charlton host Doncaster Rovers having won the first game 2-1.
Second legs are often passionate and thrilling games with the prize of victory a Wembley final. The Championship will be in touching distance of the victors this week. Who will come out on top and meet in the League One play-off final?
League One Play-Off Semi-Final Second Leg Preview
Portsmouth v Sunderland – Thursday 16th May – 7:45 pm
The Black Cats take a slender one-goal advantage with them to Fratton Park. A superb Chris Maguire goal secured their win in the first leg. This will be the fifth time the teams have met and this is the biggest of them all. A packed Fratton Park which will include the travelling red and white army should provide a special atmosphere.
O’Nien in Confident Mood for Play-Off Semi-Final
Both sides have engaged in verbal sparring ahead of the game. Sunderland’s Luke O’Nien is in a confident mood: “I am very positive going into the second leg. There’s still a lot of work to do, although we have a one-nil lead going to Fratton Park. We have had a good couple of days of training and the boys are in good spirits. We are going to have to make sure that we are on it and I am sure if we do this, they won’t be able to handle us.”
Evans Wants to Batter Opposition
Portsmouth’s Gareth Evans claims he and his teammates are set to batter Sunderland: “They’ve got the goal, but it’s only half-time and we said in the dressing room that we were 1-0 down half-time at Wembley. We went on to batter them in the second half – and that’s fully what we intend to do on Thursday.”
Shot-shy Pompey will be hoping to rediscover their scoring touch. Striker Brett Pitman may be available if he gets through training. Left-back Lee Brown will also have a fitness test. Pompey have hit a poor run of form at the worst time. Four games without a win saw them fail to secure automatic promotion and they also trail in the play-offs
Jack Ross could have a selection headache to deal with but in a good way. Ross hopes to have Aiden McGeady back. Player of the season McGeady was named in the starting line-up for the first leg; however, he failed to get through the warm-up. Chris Maguire came off the bench to score the winner and collect the man of the match award. Alim Ozturk is available after his red card in the first leg was overturned. Duncan Watmore could also feature.
Charlton Athletic v Doncaster Rovers – Friday 17th May – 7:45 pm
In-form Charlton came away from the first leg at Doncaster with what could be a priceless lead. The only downside was conceding a late goal. For Rovers, this goal gave them hope. Their task will be a difficult one but this season has brought us bigger shocks.
Striker Confident About Finishing the Job
With Rovers chasing the game, Charlton could take advantage. 25-goal striker Lyle Taylor is confident his team can finish the job: “We just have to go and get the job done, it’s that simple. With [only] a goal being the difference you can’t be slack. And we won’t be slack. We’ll do everything we can to win the game and keep a clean sheet.”
Rovers to Go For it in Play-Off Semi-Final
Charlton are unbeaten at home since October. It will, therefore, be no easy task to get the win Doncaster desperately want. Rovers boss Grant McCann insists his team will “go for it”:
“We have to go there and just play with everything we have,” he said.
“It’ll be a no holds barred approach. We’ve got to make sure we go for the jugular. I’m not a safety person. I’m not one that says ‘stay in the game’. I never have been. We will go for it.”
Charlton should have an almost fully fit squad to choose from. However, Igor Vetokele has been ruled out. Forward Joss Parker was substituted in the first leg due to cramp. His fitness will be assessed closer to the game. Rovers have no fresh injury worries and manger McCann is expected to have a full squad to choose from.