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Sunderland: Bailey Wright was the real promotion hero

Sunderland finally escaped the third tier of English football as they beat Wycombe 2-0 at Wembley in the League One play-off final on Saturday.

The Black Cats led 1-0 at half-time as Elliot Embleton’s strike gave them the lead early on. He broke through the middle of the pitch after taking the ball from Alex Pritchard and unleashed a fierce strike from distance which beat David Stockdale, although the shot-stopper will be disappointed that he failed to prevent the ball from going into his net.

Wycombe turned up the pressure at the start of the second half and had a few half-chances to equalise as they pushed to level the match. However, Alex Neil’s team responded in the best possible way as Pritchard found Ross Stewart, and he duly found the net with a fine finish from the edge of the penalty box.

Whilst the former Norwich midfielder set up both goals and impressed throughout the game with neat touches and composed play, the real promotion hero was defender Bailey Wright.

Was Bailey Wright man of the match?

Yes

Yes

No

No

Wright was Sunderland’s promotion hero

The £13k-per-week tank was a monster at the back for Sunderland as he repelled almost everything that Wycombe threw at him over the course of the 90 minutes. He had to contend with Sam Vokes, who scored 17 goals in League One this term, and then dealt with Adebayo Akinfenwa at the end of the match.

During the regular season, Vokes won 10.6 aerial battles per game at a success rate of 56%. His strength comes in the air and Gareth Ainsworth attempted to utilise that by playing long balls and crosses into the former Stoke man, but it was an unsuccessful tactic as Wright and Danny Batth dominated him.

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The Welsh striker ended the match with six aerial duels won out of 17 and only six completed passes at a success rate of 35%. This shows that he was bullied out of the game by Sunderland’s centre-backs, which reduced Wycombe to very little in the way of attacking threat.

Wright’s defensive statistics show that he was a big reason why the veteran forward struggled today. As per SofaScore, the Australian won 11 of his 14 duels – including eight of his 11 in the air – and made a whopping six clearances as he protected Anthony Patterson’s goal. He also made two tackles and two interceptions as he cut out a number of opposition attacks.

Therefore, the experienced centre-back played a major role in Sunderland’s win and was the real hero on the day, as he nullified Wycombe’s main attacking threat and gave his forward team-mates a solid platform upon which to build their play.

AND in other news, Sunderland make “enquiry” to sign “combative” £225k-rated gem, Neil will love him…

Article title: Sunderland: Bailey Wright was the real promotion hero

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