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Match Previews

New to League One: Sunderland

14 June 2018

With seven days to go until our fixtures are released, we take a look at the seven new teams joining League One in 2018/19.

First up is Sunderland...

 

Overview:

The Black Cats are preparing for their first third-tier campaign in 30 years and only the second in their 139-year history.

Former St Mirren boss Jack Ross has been tasked with guiding Sunderland back into the Championship at the first attempt.

 

Last Season:

Sunderland suffered a second successive relegation after finishing bottom of the Championship.

Simon Grayson was appointed manager last summer but lasted just four months and 18 matches, being sacked in October.

Chris Coleman, who guided Wales to the Euro 2016 semi-finals, stepped in but was unable to turn the tide, winning just five of his 29 games.

Their relegation was confirmed with two games remaining and Coleman was dismissed eight days later, with Robbie Stockdale taking caretaker charge of their final game.

 

Manager:

Jack Ross was appointed Black Cats boss earlier this summer on a two-year deal.

The 41-year-old was named the 2017/18 PFA Scotland Manager of the Year after leading St Mirren to the Scottish Championship title.

The Buddies won 23 of 36 league matches, finishing 12 points clear of second-placed Livingstone.

Falkirk-born Ross started his management career with Alloa Athletic.

Five-year Record:

2017/18: Championship – 24th (Relegated)

2016/17: Premier League – 20th (Relegated)

2015/16: Premier League – 17th

2014/15 Premier League – 16th

2013/14 Premier League – 14th

 

Stadium:

With an all-seater capacity of 49,000, the Stadium of Light is comfortably the largest, and arguably the most impressive, ground in League One.

It was built in 1997 as a replacement for the outdated but much-loved Roker Park and has hosted three full England internationals, including the Euro 2004 qualifier against Turkey.

Distance from Banks’s Stadium: 203 miles – 3 hours 21 mins

 

Head-to-Head:

It is 14 years since Walsall and Sunderland last locked horns; the Black Cats won 3-1 that day in a Division One fixture in March 2004.

The Mackems have won the last four meetings between the sides, with the Saddlers’ last success over Sunderland coming in February 1989 – 3-0 at Roker Park.

 

A Foot in Both Camps:

Forward Darren Byfield scored the Saddlers’ promotion-clinching goal in the 3-2 victory over Reading in the 2001 Second Division play-off final.

The six-time Jamaica international scored 29 goals over two spells with Walsall and also spent six months at Sunderland, helping them reach the 2003/04 Championship play-offs.

 

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