Portsmouth boss Danny Cowley makes League One play-off final prediction as Sheffield Wednesday, Sunderland, Wycombe and MK Dons prepare for semi-final second-leg ties

Pompey boss Danny Cowley has been giving his verdict on the League One play-off semi-finals.

By Mark McMahon
Sunday, 8th May 2022, 2:07 pm

And he’s predicting a Sheffield Wednesday v Wycombe final at Wembley on Saturday, May 21, as all four clubs involved gear up for their second-leg ties.

The Owls lost their first-leg game at Sunderland 1-0 on Friday night following Ross Stewart’s 25th goal of the season on the stroke of half-time.

The Black Cats travel to Hillsborough on Monday night looking to build on their slender advantage and book a return trip to the capital so they can avoid a fifth season in a row in the third tier.

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But with Darren Moore’s side picking up 53 points at home this season – which is more than any other club in the division – and winning seven of their past eight games on home soil, including a final-day 4-1 win against the Blues, Cowley believes Wednesday will have the upper hand.

And with 30,000-plus fans expected to cheer them on, the Pompey manager is of the opinion Alex Neil’s Sunderland need more than a one-goal cushion heading into the reverse fixture.

Appearing on EFL on Quest on Saturday night, Cowley was asked who he would rather be in charge off with both semi-finals evenly poised.

In response to the Sheffield Wednesday v Sunderland tie, he said: ‘I think, probably, just Sheffield Wednesday just because of their home form.

Sunderland striker Ross Stewart, right, is congratulated for his match-winner against Sheffield Wednesday on Friday night Picture: Stu Forster/Getty Images

‘I think they’ve had an incredible 50 points at home (with) and 35,000 people at Hillsborough right behind them, I just think they’ll be difficult to stop.’

Wycombe travel to MK Dons today (6.30pm kick-off) with a 2-0 advantage from the first leg thanks to goals from Ryan Tafazolli and Sam Vokes at Adams Park on Thursday night.

That was Gareth Ainsworth’s first win over Liam Manning’s troops this season, following three earlier defeats against the Dons in all competitions.

And despite tonight’s hosts finishing six points and three places above the Chairboys in the final League One standings, Cowley believes Wycombe will prove hard nuts to crack as they protect a two-goal lead.

The Pompey boss – whose own side finished 10 points short of the play-offs in 10th – added: ‘Two contrasting styles – I think MK Dons had a really good way into the game (on Thursday night), but credit to Wycombe.

‘They scored a really good set-piece goal and then got control of the game.

‘They played right up against MK Dons, stopped MK Dons’ rhythm and fluency.

‘They’ll be difficult to stop in the two legs now.’