- Charlton Athletic 2-1 Sunderland
An afternoon that began with the ridiculous ended in sublime, unbridled joy for Charlton Athletic, a club finally on the up once more after so many seasons of misery. The latest of scrappy winners, scored as this League One play-off final headed towards extra time, ended Charlton’s three-year stay in the third tier and provided Lee Bowyer, their fledgling manager, with the first major victory of his career in the dugout.
The 94th minute winner, bundled in by Patrick Bauer, was met with wide-eyed disbelief by those in red. There had been similar expressions at the start of the match, too, when Charlton goalkeeper Dillon Phillips produced one of the all-time great Wembley errors to give Sunderland an early lead.
There was no man more relieved than Phillips, then, when Bowyer’s side completed their turnaround with what was essentially the last kick of the match. It was not quite as spectacular as the great 1998 play-off final between these sides, but try telling the Charlton faithful that this could have felt any sweeter. Crushed under the feet of their own ownership in recent years, the fans have their joy back under Bowyer and now they have the Championship back, too.
“I got a bit emotional walking out on the pitch,” said Bowyer. “This football club gave me a chance as a kid, coming through the youth ranks. To come back to the club that gave me a chance and then to walk them out at Wembley is so special to me. To get the result we did, to see everyone smiling, the club has been through some bad times. To see everyone come together. What we have done is something special.”
As ever, Charlton joy contrasted with Sunderland misery. Jack Ross’ side were not creative enough in attack, and they paid the price for their lack of invention. This was their seventh consecutive trip to Wembley which ended without a victory, a run stretching all the way back to 1973. “I don’t think that group of players, what they gave for me this season and what they gave out there today, deserved to lose in that manner,” Ross said.
The stakes are always high in play-off finals, of course, but this felt even more significant for two clubs who have endured such difficulties in recent years. The hope now for Charlton’s fans, united again since Bowyer’s appointment as manager, is that promotion will speed up the departure of the loathed Roland Duchatelet. In Bowyer’s words, the club will now be a far more attractive proposition for potential buyers.
As for Sunderland, an immediate return to the Championship with what is essentially a Championship-level squad would have marked the end of a disastrous slide. The promise of new investment within days, if they had reached the second tier, failed to work as a game-changing incentive. When the sadness becomes less debilitating, there are serious conversations to be had.
Tension was in the air from the start. Perhaps that was the reason for Phillips’ error of a lifetime, a genuine moment of horror for a 23-year-old who clearly knew that this one slip could haunt him for the rest of his career. Naby Sarr’s back-pass was not the kindest, but that was no excuse for the way that Phillips allowed it to roll under his studs and into the net.
The consolation for Phillips was two-fold. First, it could not have got any worse. It might never get any worse for him. Second, Charlton’s outfielders responded brilliantly to the setback, taking control of the game and surging forward with menace. Lyle Taylor was dangerous, while the highly-rated Joe Aribo was influential in midfield.
Their equaliser was lovely. Aribo and Anfernee Dijksteel combined to set up Taylor inside the box, and his cross found Ben Purrington at the back post. At the other end of the pitch, Phillips clasped his gloved hands together and stared up at the gods in thanks.
It soon became an occasion defined by blocks and clearances rather than any attacking class. Grant Leadbitter and Lee Cattermole were controlling the midfield for Sunderland but chaos arrived with a left-wing cross towards their back post. It was Bauer, falling over as he shot, who made the crucial difference.
Dillon Phillips speaks
I’ve just seen the goal for the first time. It was a lack of concentration. It kicked on quicker than I expected. I can’t thank the boys enough for getting us back in the game. And now we’re in the Championship – I can’t believe it, really. No better feeling, mate, no better feeling, I'm over the moon.
Lee Bowyer speaks
A unique group of players, they keep going. The crowd, to bring it all back together, we couldn't control it, it was one of those freak things [the own goal] but to score so late in the game. This is the proudest moment of my career.
Man of the match Krystian Bielik speaks
There isn't a better dressing room. This is family. The spirit is unbelievable. Sorry, I can’t speak, I’m just ...
And then he breaks down.
Charlton are promoted to the Championship
Amazing scenes. Sunderland remain in League One. On the balance of the match, Charlton have deserved it. They won it with the last kick of the game but after so many free-kicks in the last 10 minutes, they kept inviting pressure.
Bauer turns in a cross at the far post. Remarkable. Sunderland have been committing foul after foul for the past 10 minutes and have been made to pay for it. Aribo and Cullen double up down the left on O'Nien, Cullen lifts a cross to the far post and Flanagan blocks the initial effort from Bauer that fall sweetly for the Charlton captain to stab in.
Charlton 2-1 Sunderland
90+4 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Ozturk wrestles Parker down to concede another free-kick.
90+3 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Flanagan flattens Taylor out by the right corner rather than let him go round him. Cullen picks out Bauer at the far post and McLaughlin plucks his header from the air before Taylor can get there.
90+2 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Excellent move from Charlton with Dijksteel feeding Williams down the right. His cross is met by Parker at the near post and he tries to improvise a flicked finish. Flanagan blocks.
90 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Oviedo slides in to concede a throw-in rather than letting Taylor past him up the right wing. There will be four added minutes.
89 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Cullen cross for Charlton from the right. Up goes Parker but shoves Ozturk in midair and the referee blows his whistle. What a waste.
88 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
O'Nien hoops a right-wing cross from deep down Phillips' throat. Seems like we're drifting towards extra-time.
86 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Cattermole declines the invitation to shoot at the edge of the area after Grigg gets the better of Purrington.
84 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Shot from McGeady, cutting on to his right from the left. He lines up the curler into the top left but spoons it over the bar.
82 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Leadbitter is finally booked for a hack at Williams on the old totting up convention.
80 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Oviedo has a dig with his swinger, ballooning a right-foot shot from 25 yards down Phillips' throat.
79 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Penalty box pinball in the Charlton area ends when Cullen puts his foot through a clearance and wellies it into the crowd. Tiredness is sapping legs and minds.
77 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Very tense and scrappy now. McGeady and Williams have the class to make decisive interventions in the last 13 minutes. Williams is being resolutely targeted by Sunderland. Leadbitter somehow escapes a yellow for scything him down.
75 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Cullen takes the free-kick, Bielik heads it at the far post while being held by Grigg. He falls awkwardly on his shoulder as Sunderland hustle it away.
73 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Bad foul from O'Nien on Williams, wiping him out in a slide tackle over the ball by the byline.
Sunderland sub: McGeady on for Wyke.
72 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Williams is instantly into it, skating up the left and beating O'Nien. He lofts a cross to the far post that Taylor, who had to go too deep to reach it, can't steer into the narrow gap between McLaughlin and the top bins.
70 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Charlton substitution: Pratley departs - Jonny Williams replaces him.
69 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Honeyman races after a loose ball up the left and shifts it inside. Charlton scramble it away for a throw-in. Dijksteel stops the next thrust with a well-timed tackle on Morgan.
67 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
O'Nien blazes up the right, feeds Grigg and his cross is blocked behind for a Sunderland corner. Leadbitter drives a dipping low corner to the near post that induces panic but Wyke couldn't get there either.
65 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Cullen swings it beyond the back post and McLaughlin bosses his six-yard box, skipping confidently to his left to catch it.
64 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Grigg is booked for taking out Purrington even though he won the ball with a sliding tackle. Cullen will take the free-kick, parallel with the 18-yard line, wide in the left.
62 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Bauer slides through Morgan and scissors his standing leg after he touched the ball. Free kick but no yellow. Wales midfielder Jonny Williams is warming up for Charlton. O'Nien comes back with a black bandage wound around his scalp.
60 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
O'Nien has to go off for stitches in a wound on the crown of his head. Pratley is allowed back on. Sunderland are down to 10.
59 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Sickening collision between O'Nien and Pratley, head to head. Both seem OK but there'll be a delay while they're assessed.
57 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Sunderland substitution: Maguire is replaced by Will Grigg. Sunderland go to 4-4-2.
55 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Chance for Sunderland. Morgan passes out to Maguire down the right and continues his run into the box. Maguire clips it to the near post and Morgan can't find the right shape to meet it and bludgeons his hooked volley miles wide.
53 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Terrific tackle from Flanagan as Taylor, having beaten Oviedo, ran at him from the right. Had he got past he would have been one-on-one with the keeper.
51 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Lyle Taylor spins Cattermole and is brought down. Again a Sunderland player escapes a yellow card when one looked deserved. Lee Bowyer is not a happy man at what he perceives to be double standards.
49 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Parker, attacking down the left, is fouled by O'Nien. Charlton choose to go backwards from the free-kick to go forwards. Cullen hangs up a lofted pass from right to left for Aribo to run on to. Ozturk grabs him but lets go after only a second so the referee doesn't gibe the foul as the ball bounces too close to McLaughlin for Aribo to catch.
47 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Sunderland pass it out from the back and switch it from right to left. The final pass to Oviedo is overhit and the promising attack breaks down.
46 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Charlton have switched to a back-four and a diamond in midfield. Replays of the Sarr own goal suggest he did hit it quite hard and there was a bobble in front of Phillips so he can't take all the blame.
Jason Pearce replaces the booked Naby Sarr for Charlton
Charlton have been much the better side in their precision and passing. Sunderland have created very little - Wyke's volley that hit Bauer's hand, a couple of headers at the back post and that's it. Aribo, who is bound for the Premier League I'm certain, is the game's creative force and Lyle Taylor's movement is causing all sorts of problems down the left side of Sunderland's defence. They need to adjust after the break.
45+3 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Long diagonal from Leadbitter is bungled by Morgan on the right touchline and trapped like a rebounding board into touch.
45+1 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
The first of three added minutes proceeds with the sub Morgan bombing up the right. He tests Sarr's mettle and technique given his booking but the nimble centre-back times it perfectly.
44 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Maguire thrashes the free kick hopelessly over the bar,
42 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Bauer steps across Maguire to intercept a pass sent up the right by Flanagan. Throw-in, from which Honeyman dribbles at Sarr and the centre-back blocks him. Free kick on the whitewash by the nagle of the box on the right. Yellow card for Sarr despite a Sunderland player being let off for exactly the same kind of obstructive challenge a minute before.
40 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Sunderland seem to have woken up from their doomed attempt to defend the lead they were given as a gift and are running at the wing-backs now.
37 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Sunderland respond with more aggressive running than we have seen hitherto. O'Nien and Honeyman combine up the right and Sarr has to concentrate and pick his moment - which he does to knock it behind. In comes the corner and the referee blows his whistle because Charlie Wyke mistakes Lyle Taylor for a step-ladder. Free kick.
34 min Charlton 1-1 Sunderland
Aribo gets the ball on the edge of the D, holds off Leadbitter then spins a lovely pass from inside- to outside-right. Taylor, who has split right, then feeds a glorious daisycutter through the six yard box, bending it away from Ozturk and Flanagan. The left wing-back steps in to slot it past McLaughlin from three yards. Took real elan, that. Sunderland have been garbage for the past 20 minutes.
Charlton 1-1 Sunderland (Purrington) It's been coming.
31 min Charlton 0-1 Sunderland
Charlton throw on the right leads to a corner. Dijksteel beats Maguire, arrows towards the box, dinks a pass to Taylor on the half-turn and as he swivels to shoot, Oviedo toes it behind. Cullen takes it again and hits it deep. Bielik is there again to win it and should do better.
28 min Charlton 0-1 Sunderland
It's Charlton who are pushing Sunderland back now, drawing fouls from some scrappy defending. Free kick on the right, about 35 yards from goal. Cullen takes and arcs it down McLaughlin's throat after they decide not to repeat the move that brought a goal against Donny. Aribo peeled off down the right but Cullen crossed it instead.
26 min Charlton 0-1 Sunderland
Better still from Charlton, Taylor again pulling out wide and forcing Oviedo into conceding a corner. Cullen's cross is headed out, Bielik wins it back and Purrington lofts a diagonal that is flicked on into the box. The ball drops to Taylor who thunders a difficult volley that came across his left shoulder over the bar,
23 min Charlton 0-1 Sunderland
Lyle Taylor makes a penetrating run up the right, Maguire hounds him all the way, slides in and knocks it behind for a corner. Cullen takes, Bauer by the penalty spot wins the header and steers it wide by about two yards.
22 min Charlton 0-1 Sunderland
O'Nien makes a vital tackle to snap into Aribo as the midfielder tried to dribble up the left byline.
20 min Charlton 0-1 Sunderland
Two run over the ball and then Charlton float a cross to the far post where Bielik had gone too soon and drawn an offside flag.
19 min Charlton 0-1 Sunderland
Aribo has a classy touch on the ball, opens his body to try to thread a 10-yard pass into Taylor's feet. It's blocked but a minute later he comes again, drives forward and Cattermole trips him. Free kick 28 yards out, right of centre.
17 min Charlton 0-1 Sunderland
Charlton are playing two up top but can't make the ball stick there.
O'Nien hits the deck after Pratley steps in to retrieve the ball and knock it back to his keeper for a goal-kick. The Sunderland fans emit a high-throated roar reminiscent of a schoolboy international.
Charlton seem to have overcome that wobble in defence but they need a spell of possession to be sure.
Good, smart save from Phillips down to his left to deny Sunderland, turning Leadbitter's blistering shot around the post.
Sunderland substitution: Lewis Morgan replaces Power. Maguire clips a long cross from the left that flies over the box. Darren Pratley tries to urge his Charlton team-mates to calm down. They're frantic at the moment.
Wyke smashes a right-foot volley from 16 yards that hits Bauer on the hand. Sunderland bellow for a penalty but Madley turns it down. Power goes down for a third time and Charlton kindly put the ball into touch.
Astounding mistake from the keeper who was badly positioned and then absurdly casual. Sunderland have the wind behind them as Charlton are thoroughly rattled. Wyke and Honeyman run at the defence and Charlton scramble it away.
In the name of all that's holy. A terrible error, Enckelmanesque, from Phillips, who lets a very tame backpass slip under his foot as he tried to trap it and dribble into the net. Extraordinary.
Charlton 0-1 Sunderland (Sarr og)
3 min Charlton 0-0 Sunderland
After treatment for the irate Power, who was effing and jeffing at the reffing, McLaughlin takes the goalkick and Purrington heads it out for a Sunderland throw. Nothing comes of it and Sunderland go back to their keeper. Good atmosphere, clear Sunderland bias in terms of numbers and roars.
1 min Charlton 0-0 Sunderland
Sunderland kick off but lose the ball early and Taylor goes up the right to whip in a cross that Sunderland clear. There are a couple of heavy challenges in midfield, Sarr knocking over Power who isn't happy but it was a blind collision. The ref allows play to continue and the ball runs out on the right when Charlton's attack breaks down.
Sky suggests Charlton will play 3-5-2
With the Arsenal loanee Krystian Bielik slotting in on the right of the back three. Interesting. The teams are out. Shaun Harvey, once of Scarborough, Bradford City and Leeds in their darkest days, shakes the players' hands. The ubiquitous Laura Wright sings the anthem.
I've spotted Steve Cram. Anyone got Charlton's Cheryl Baker yet?
Previous meetings this season have been tight
Sunderland came back on opening day to win 2-1 at the Stadium of Light while Charlron came back after Luke O'Nien put Sunderland up at the Valley to draw 1-1 when Reece James, 'the other Reece James' put through his own net.
Your teams in black and white
Charlton Athletic (4-1-2-1-2) Phillips; Dijksteel, Bauer, Sarr, Purrington; Bielik; Cullen, Pratley; Aribo; Taylor, Parker. S
Substitutes Maxwell, Solly, Pearce, Lapslie, Forster, Reeves, Williams.
Sunderland (4-2-3-1) McLaughlin; O’Nien, Ozturk, Flanagan, Oviedo; Cattermole, Leadbitter; Honeyman, Power, Maguire; Wyke.
Substitutes Stryjek, Dunne, Matthews, McGeady, Morgan, Gooch, Grigg.
Referee Andy Madley (Huddersfield)
Sunderland team news
Today's team news is in, in association with @aphrodite1994...— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) May 26, 2019
Unchanged from our second leg at Portsmouth, with @MaxStryjek and Aiden McGeady named on the bench. #NotDoneYet#SAFCpic.twitter.com/d9CJ0FArSd
Charlton team news
Only two years ago Lee Bowyer was running his carp fishing business in France until his former Leeds United team-mate, Harry Kewell, asked him to help out for six weeks at Watford's academy. He caught the bug and just when he thought he was out, football has pulled him back in. Fifteen months on from moving up to take over as Charlton's caretaker manager, he has taken this fine club, tragically abused and mismanaged by its owner, into the League One play-off final against Sunderland after beating Doncaster in the semi-final.
Bowyer and much of his Addicks' squad are out of contract this summer because of the uncertainty forced on them by Roland Duchatelet.
"I've let the lads know from day one that we won't carry anyone who will play for themselves as an individual," he said about his approach. "The group we've put together is an exceptional and unique group, and I've said that for a long time now.
"Form is good because it puts you into a good place; our players and the football club as a whole is in a good place. "That wasn't the case when I first took over, but now all of a sudden everyone is happy and smiling. That's from hard work.
"You must know that your friend you're playing alongside is going to help you if you're having a bad time, or if you're caught out of position."
Igor Vetokele remains a fitness doubt, owing to a thigh injury, but a wider concern for Bowyer is that Charlton handle the occasion of Sunday's visit to Wembley, their first for 21 years since they also defeated Sunderland.
"It's still a game of football between two teams, nothing changes there," he said. "It's looking at their strengths and weaknesses, making sure we put the right side out, and that everyone is ready physically and mentally. Whoever is chosen on Sunday, I know they won't let me down."
Jack Ross was a 21-year-old defender with Camelon Juniors when Sunderland and Charlton played out arguably the most famous play-off final in history at Wembley in May 1998.
Clive Mendonca struck a hat-trick against his home-town club and Serbian goalkeeper Sasa Ilic made the crucial save as the Addicks reached the top-flight on penalties after a 4-4 draw.
Memories have inevitably resurfaced since the two clubs booked a repeat appearance, this time in the League One final, at Wembley on Sunday - but Ross admits he would dread the prospect of such a breathless repeat.
Ross said: "When the two teams avoided each other in the semi-final people naturally started to point towards that, but I must admit nobody has really spoken about it this week.
"I know there will be a lot made of it but we are two very different sides, and two clubs who have been involved in a lot of highs and lows since.
"Obviously we hope for a different outcome this time - and ideally a different match in terms of a more controlled game."
Ross, who could have Aiden McGeady available again after the foot injury which forced him out of both play-off semi-finals against Portsmouth, is confident his players can raise themselves after a difficult League One campaign.
Favourites for automatic promotion for much of the season, his side flagged in the dying stages, handing second place to Barnsley and raising fears they had petered out at the crucial time.
However, they were buoyed by a trip to Wembley for the Checkatrade Trophy final and their recent familiarity with the stadium could prove a factor when they return on Sunday.
Ross added: "The way the season ended for us, we received the disappointment of not achieving automatic promotion, and we had a couple of indifferent performances. It's very unusual to go back to Wembley so quickly, so the memory of what it was like, and knowing how much it can affect you if you don't control your emotions the right way, I think it will stand us in good stead."