League One - Play-off Final
CharltonCharlton Athletic2SunderlandSunderland1

League One play-off final: Charlton Athletic 2-1 Sunderland

By James LawBBC Sport at Wembley
Patrick Bauer scores Charlton's winner
Patrick Bauer's Wembley winner was his only goal in 39 appearances for Charlton this season

Charlton Athletic scored with virtually the last kick of the game as they recovered from conceding an extraordinary early own goal to beat Sunderland in the League One play-off final at Wembley.

Addicks defender Patrick Bauer had an initial header blocked from a cross, but was on hand to scramble home the rebound to take them up to the Championship after three years in the third tier.

Early on, Charlton centre-back Naby Sarr's powerful backpass was completely missed by goalkeeper Dillon Phillips, who watched the ball roll into his net as he chased back in vain.

But Lee Bowyer's side got a foothold in the game and levelled when Lyle Taylor put in a low cross for Ben Purrington tap in at the back post, before Bauer's match-winning intervention in the 94th minute.

Defeat means Sunderland, relegated in each of the past two seasons, are resigned to a second year in League One after a second Wembley final defeat in the space of 56 days.

The game looked destined for extra time after a second half with no meaningful efforts on target, but a Charlton overload at the back post in the fourth and final minute of stoppage time gave Bauer two opportunities to score a thrilling winner.

The Black Cats could have had a bigger lead before they were pegged back, having a penalty appeal turned down when Charlie Wyke's half-volley struck Bauer on the arm in the box, before Grant Leadbitter saw his low shot from 25 yards tipped wide by Phillips.

Charlton goalkeeper Dillon Phillips
Goalkeeper Dillon Phillips failed to keep out Naby Sarr's backpass, giving Sunderland an early lead at Wembley

Charlton's sluggish start was not limited to Phillips and Sarr, though their mix-up may have contributed to a first 20 minutes when nobody in a red shirt seemed to settle.

Leading scorer Taylor had already showed signs of causing danger before his involvement in some slick one-touch play with Anfernee Dijksteel and Joe Aribo, ending with him crossing for Purrington's equaliser - the wing-back's first goal for the club.

Sarr was replaced at the interval by Jason Pearce after an eventful half in which he was also booked, and it sparked a change in play for Bowyer's side, with Krystian Bielik moving into midfield.

Sunderland hoped the introduction of influential playmaker Aiden McGeady would inspire them to victory, but the winger struggled to raise a side that was unable to create anything of note.

In many ways, the final may still be remembered for Sarr's calamitous own goal, which came under no pressure and as a result of a lapse in concentration from Phillips, who totally misjudged the path of the ball.

Bowyer leads Charlton to Championship

At the end of another season of off-field discontent and protests against owner Roland Duchatalet, Charlton fans have a promotion to celebrate.

On the pitch, Bowyer was doing his best to steady the Charlton ship, though at the turn of the year the Addicks were only clinging onto the final League One play-off spot.

Their promotion ambitions looked to have taken a hefty blow when 14-goal striker Karlan Grant left for Premier League Huddersfield in January, but fellow forward Lyle Taylor relished the extra responsibility.

Charlton Athletic celebrate
Charlton Athletic finished third in League One with 88 points

Bowyer's side finished the regular season with 10 wins from 13 games to finish third - just three points from an automatic promotion spot - and laboured past Doncaster to make it back to Wembley for the first time since their famous final victory over Sunderland in 1998.

This one might not have had as many goals as the 4-4 between the two sides 21 years ago, but matched it for drama with the bizarre own goal and Bauer's last-gasp winner ensuring the same victors.

More Wembley heartbreak for Sunderland

It is now seven Wembley visits without victory for Sunderland, who last won at the national stadium in the 1973 FA Cup final, and they have suffered the same fate as Shrewsbury - who also lost in both the League One play-off final and Checkatrade Trophy final last season.

This time last year, the Black Cats were going through a period of drastic change off the field following back-to-back relegations from the Premier League into League One.

Jack Ross had just been named the club's 11th full-time boss in less than 10 years, with Stewart Donald taking over a club that still had several expensive flops on their books.

Sunderland were in or around the automatic promotion spots from the very start of the season, but the loss of 16-goal top scorer Josh Maja in January threatened to derail their campaign.

The £4m deadline-day acquisition of Northern Ireland striker Will Grigg signalled their ambition to secure an instant return to the Championship, but despite losing the fewest games in the EFL, they drew 19 times as they limped to a fifth-place finish.

Chairman Donald is in talks with potential investors but it will be interesting to see if their failure to gain promotion will have an adverse affect on their search for more financial backing.


Charlton manager Lee Bowyer:

"It was a crazy game, nothing is straightforward with us. With the mistake early on, I can't say I've ever seen that before, especially in a final.

"It shows the character of the players we have put together. I have said so many times that we have a unique group and they easily could have gone under, but they were brave and they were men.

"Once we settled down and started to pass the ball I thought we controlled big parts of the game.

"The club has been through some bad times. To see everyone to come together and buy into what I was asking for, what we have done is something special.

Sunderland manager Jack Ross:

"We were here not so long ago and lost in a really sore manner but it doesn't compare to today.

"We knew the significance of the game and the importance of coming out on the right side of the result. To lose in that manner so late in the game is particularly painful.

"It is gut-wrenching for the players. That is the only way to describe it and I don't think that group of players deserved to lose in that manner. It is really sore for them right now but in the fullness of time they may understand that it will help strengthen them. They have to use it as motivation in the future.

"I came here to take the club back to the Championship at the first time of asking. I haven't been able to do that so I will carry that element of disappointment myself because I set high standards."



Formation 3-5-2

  • 1Phillips
  • 4Bielik
  • 5Bauer
  • 23SarrBooked at 44minsSubstituted forPearceat 45'minutes
  • 2Dijksteel
  • 15PratleySubstituted forWilliamsat 71'minutes
  • 24Cullen
  • 17Aribo
  • 16Purrington
  • 9Taylor
  • 10Parker


  • 6Pearce
  • 8Forster-Caskey
  • 12Reeves
  • 20Solly
  • 21Williams
  • 22Maxwell
  • 32Lapslie


Formation 4-3-3

  • 1McLaughlin
  • 13O'NienBooked at 73mins
  • 5Ozturk
  • 12FlanaganBooked at 90mins
  • 3Oviedo
  • 6Cattermole
  • 27PowerSubstituted forMorganat 9'minutes
  • 23LeadbitterBooked at 83mins
  • 10Honeyman
  • 9WykeSubstituted forMcGeadyat 72'minutes
  • 7MaguireSubstituted forGriggat 57'minutesBooked at 65mins


  • 2Matthews
  • 11Gooch
  • 17Morgan
  • 19McGeady
  • 22Grigg
  • 30Dunne
  • 32Stryjek
Andy Madley

Match Stats

Home TeamCharltonAway TeamSunderland
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Charlton Athletic 2, Sunderland 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Charlton Athletic 2, Sunderland 1.

  3. Goal!

    Goal! Charlton Athletic 2, Sunderland 1. Patrick Bauer (Charlton Athletic) right footed shot from very close range to the bottom right corner following a set piece situation.

  4. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Patrick Bauer (Charlton Athletic) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Josh Cullen with a cross.

  5. Post update

    Josh Parker (Charlton Athletic) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Alim Ozturk (Sunderland).

  7. Booking

    Tom Flanagan (Sunderland) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  8. Post update

    Lyle Taylor (Charlton Athletic) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  9. Post update

    Foul by Tom Flanagan (Sunderland).

  10. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Aiden McGeady (Sunderland) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Bryan Oviedo.

  11. Post update

    William Grigg (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  12. Post update

    Foul by Krystian Bielik (Charlton Athletic).

  13. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Josh Parker (Charlton Athletic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jonathan Williams with a cross.

  14. Post update

    Alim Ozturk (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  15. Post update

    Foul by Josh Parker (Charlton Athletic).

  16. Post update

    Attempt missed. Aiden McGeady (Sunderland) right footed shot from the left side of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by William Grigg.

  17. Post update

    Alim Ozturk (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  18. Post update

    Foul by Josh Parker (Charlton Athletic).

  19. Booking

    Grant Leadbitter (Sunderland) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Grant Leadbitter (Sunderland).


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