Tony Mowbray names Spain side as Sunderland play-off inspiration

A performance in Saturday’s first leg at the Stadium of Light gave the Black Cats a 2-1 lead over Bedfordshire. That means Luton will need to score three if they score Wembley tonight unless they rely on a penalty shootout to get them across the line.

While some other sides might be tempted to change their game plan in order to maintain a one-goal lead, Sunderland’s lack of available defenders means attacking remains the best form of defense for Mowbray and his players.

Sunderland have failed to score in just one of their last 31 games, a statistic that gives cause for optimism ahead of tonight’s crucial second leg.

“We did great to come out on top in the first game and I don’t expect it to be too different in the second game,” said Mowbray. “It’s a tighter environment, of course, and if anything, Luton could double down on his work and style of play. We must try to do the same.

“Like I’ve been saying all season, we don’t really have a plan B. We’re going to play how we play and try to create chances. What gives us a lot of confidence is that we usually score.


“We’ve scored a lot of goals this season without a centre-forward. I think the team has the feeling that they will score and if we score they need to score three goals to go through. We’ll try to think positively, play our game and see how we progress.”

Whilst much emphasis has been placed on Luton’s physical superiority and the Hatters’ ability to bombard the Sunderland penalty area with a series of long balls, Mowbray will urge his little forwards to stick to their attacking principles tonight, citing the all-conquering attitude of Spain Page about a decade ago as proof that size doesn’t always matter.

“I’m not trying to compare us to the Spanish team,” he said. “But if you’re looking for a team with a lot of little players who can handle whatever they’re up against, then this is it. Well they had Iniesta, Busquets, Xavi and, okay, they had Gerard Pique in defence, but there was a side with a lot of small players.

“If you’re like that, you have to keep the ball. You need to stay on the field, keep moving and play to your strengths rather than getting involved in a game that doesn’t suit you.

“The difficulty in this game is the intensity, the importance and the urgency. There is a risk of being drawn into a fight where you are likely to be outgunned. We must remain calm. We have to play our game and gain confidence from the fact that we usually score a goal or two.” Tony Mowbray names Spain side as Sunderland play-off inspiration

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