Charlton Athletic will face Sunderland in the League One play-off final on Sunday afternoon with both sides vying for a Championship return.
Lee Bowyer’s side secured a third-placed finish in League One, and then saw off Doncaster Rovers in the semi-final to book their place at Wembley.
Charlton have not visited the national stadium since 1998, but Sunderland played there earlier this year when they lost on penalties against Portsmouth in the Checkatrade Trophy final.
Bowyer admitted this experience will give Sunderland an advantage over his side on Sunday, but he says his players also visited the stadium yesterday “to take in their surroundings”.
????LB: “We can’t use what happened 21 years ago. It’s a unique day. It’s about how the players handle the occasion. Sunderland have an advantage because they’ve played at Wembley this season, but we took the lads there yesterday to take in their surroundings.” #cafc
— Charlton Athletic FC (@CAFCofficial) May 24, 2019
Coincidentally, Charlton’s last Wembley trip saw them face Sunderland in the 1998 First Division play-off final, where the Addicks beat their opponents on penalties to seal promotion after a 4-4 draw.
Bowyer also spoke out on the limited significance of this historic result, as he is reluctant to view it as a good omen because Sunday is “a unique day”.
Charlton will be targeting a return to the Championship after spending three seasons in League One following their relegation in 2016.
The Checkatrade Trophy final will inevitably make Sunderland more familiar with their surroundings, but the fact they suffered defeat on that day may also work in Charlton’s favour.
Sunderland will not have particularly fond memories of that day, whereas the Charlton squad are heading into the game fresh and unaffected by previous Wembley heartbreak.
Bowyer is also right to not be drawn into comparisons with the 1998 fixture, as it happened too long ago to have any affect on Sunday’s result.