Mowbray’s in awe of the Mackem miracle
BLACK CATS GRAB PLAY-OFF PLACE IN DRAMATIC FINALE
TONY MOWBRAY hopes his ambitious players can do their fans proud after Sunderland clinched their play-off place in dramatic style.
Three goals in the space of 11 crazy second-half minutes from midfielders Amad Diallo, Alex Pritchard and Jake Clarke did the damage as the Black Cats ripped the Lilywhites to shreds at Deepdale.
Victory secured a semi-final against Luton, with the first leg at the Stadium of Light on Saturday and the second leg a week today.
If the Black Cats go up they will become the fourth side to achieve back-to-back promotions from League One to the Premier League.
“It’s an incredible scenario to see the people of Sunderland enjoying their football so much,” said head coach Mowbray, right. “We’re there, miraculously we’ve done it.
“It’s going to be awesome being in the semi-finals.As I sit here now the conundrum in front of us is really difficult because we have injuries to central defenders, but we have to find another performance.
“We started sloppy but then grew into the game.We were naive and let them have too many chances. It was like a basketball game in the first half. At half-time, we discussed that we needed to control the game better. We became more confident and, off the back of the first goal, we controlled things.”
In the first half, the Black Cats had a decent shout for a penalty when striker Joe Gelhardt went down following a collision with defender Patrick Bauer. Liam Delap should have put the hosts ahead, but Sunderland keeper Anthony Patterson did brilliantly and the striker dragged his shot wide.
In the other goal, Freddie Woodman made two great stops before the break to keep out Patrick Roberts’ sweet strike and deny Gelhardt from close range. Dan Neil somehow missed a glorious chance to fire the visitors ahead three minutes after the restart. But the goals then flew in as Diallo smashed into the top-left corner with a stunner in the 54th minute before substitute Pritchard struck with a clever finish for 2-0.
Clarke fired home in the 65th minute after a fast counter-attack as the Lilywhites lay shell-shocked.
Preston boss Ryan Lowe, who hinted he might quit last week having missed out on the play-offs, said: “I want to bring the good times back to this club. We are slowly but surely trying to get there, our aim is to do what Sunderland have done.” PRESTON (3-1-4-2): Woodman 6; Storey 5, Bauer 5, Lindsay 5; Ledson 6; Potts 5, McCann 6, Delap 5 (Woodburn 69, 5), Fernandez 5; Parrott 5 (Onomah 56, 5), Cannon 5. SUNDERLAND (4-2-3-1): Patterson 6; Gooch 6 (Anderson 66, 5), Hume 7, O’Nien 7, Cirkin 6 (Pritchard 45, 7); Neil 7, Ekwah 7 (Lihadji 86); Roberts 7, Diallo 9 (Ba 86), Clarke 7; Gelhardt 7 (Michut 72). Goals: Diallo 54, Pritchard 61, Clarke 65.