Sunderland vs Lincoln | Saturday 22nd May 2021, 15:15 | Sky Sports
I have read that some people were a little surprised by the first leg result, but anyone who follows League One will tell you that Sunderland have been poor for a number of weeks despite posting some decent underlying metrics.
Watching the game Sunderland had plenty of the ball, huffed and puffed but never really controlled the game and you always felt that Lincoln would score. I think they will do the same again on Saturday.
Lincoln won the xG 2.15 vs 1.11 whilst winning the shot on target count 5 vs 4, but Sunderland should have scored when they rattled the cross bar with a free header early in the second half and often lacked that final touch or composure when it mattered.
Failure to overturn the first leg loss will leave the Black Cats facing a fourth successive year in the third tier. Sunderland fans will find this unacceptable, and the pressure is on the team and manager Lee Johnson to perform. There will be 10,000 fans in the ground on Saturday and this will play a big part in the outcome.
Their recent form is cause for cause with W1-D4-L5 with now no clean sheet in 10 games. At home this season they have conceded a 1.09 goals per game with an xGA of 1.08 and only Burton saw Both Teams To Score land more than Sunderland at home.
The home side have scored in 21 of 23 games with clean sheets in just two home games against top half sides – Crewe who finished 12th and Peterborough back in September where they still conceded 1.36 xG and six shots on target.
Lincoln have an excellent away record with W13-D6-L4 and my rankings have them as the seventh best away side. They have scored in 19 of 23 away games. The Imps average 1.48 away goals with a xG of 1.5 with just three sides hitting more shots on target. Lincoln should not be underestimated here.
In the first leg I think Sunderland have reason to a feel a little hard done by as the Imps goalkeeper, Joe Bursik, who completed a whirlwind 24 hours after his emergency transfer from Stoke, made some excellent saves, but I am not sure he can play that well again.
Sunderland must look at the positives and they will know that Lincoln can be got at. They have conceded six goals in their last two league games, conceding in six of seven away games at the top seven sides in League One, conceding 1.5+ in four of them with an average xGA of 1.74, 14.33 shots and 3.83 shots on target.
It makes sense to take both teams to score and we can back that at 37/40 with BetVictor. As I have mentioned, Sunderland have seen this land in 15 of 23 home games, scoring in 21 of 23 with Lincoln scoring in 19 of 23. I can’t see Sunderland not finding the net this time and Lincoln look dangerous going forward.
Sunderland needs to push forward and take the game to the Imps. They managed five corners in the first leg, and I am happy to back them to do the same here. They have hit that line in 12 of 16 home games under Johnson.
I have also noted that Lincoln are likely to pick up bookings collecting an average of 2.35 cards on the road with one or more in 17 of 20 games. It’s a second leg of the play-offs, there should be cards – the other semi-final second leg saw six. If we add in Sunderland to keep up with scoring in 91% of home games, we can get even-money on Sunderland Over 0 Goals, Sunderland Over 4 Corners and Lincoln Over 0 Cards with Bet365.
My last bet is going to be Sunderland to win and Both Teams To Score at 10/3 with Bet365. It looks just too big to me.
As already mentioned, Sunderland have seen both teams to score bank in 15 home games this season. They know what they have to do here, and Lincoln will be happy to lose the game by the odd goal, knowing they lead the tie by two goals and BTTS and Over 2.5 Goals banked in six of their seven away games against the top seven sides.