WHEN Patrick Roberts turned in Jack Clarke’s cross at Hillsborough on Monday night, he wasn’t just claiming the goal that took Sunderland to Wembley, he was also extending the club’s remarkable record of scoring in stoppage time.

Since taking over from Lee Johnson in mid-February, Alex Neil has presided over 17 matches as Sunderland head coach. In a remarkable nine of those games, the Black Cats have scored from the 87th minute onwards, with five of their goals coming after the clock had ticked past the 90-minute mark.

Clearly, this is a Sunderland side that keeps on going to the very end – as proved by the number of last-gasp goals that have gone in.

February 22 - Sunderland 1 Burton 1 (Stewart 90)

The Northern Echo:

The goal that got the ball rolling in terms of dramatic late strikes came in Neil’s third game in charge, and secured a point against Burton from a game in which Sunderland had struggled.

With Neil having handed a rare start to Jermain Defoe, the Black Cats failed to get out of first gear on an evening that saw the game held up for more than half-an-hour because of a medical emergency in the Stadium of Light stands.

Cameron Borthwick-Jackson’s 53rd-minute finish looked like condemning Sunderland to defeat, but Stewart claimed his 20th goal of the season deep into five minutes of stoppage time to secure the Wearsiders a point. Alex Pritchard crossed, enabling Stewart to head home.

February 26 - Wigan 0 Sunderland 3 (Stewart pen, 87)

The Northern Echo:

Most of Sunderland’s late successes under Neil have played a decisive role in changing the scoreline, but this was a rare example of a last-gasp goal that did not really have a major impact.

Having produced one of their best away performances of the season at the DW Stadium, Sunderland were already two goals to the good when Tendayi Darikwa was penalised for handball.

Stewart had already scored one goal from the spot towards the end of the first half, and he calmly added a second as he successfully slotted home another penalty.

March 8 - Sunderland 3 Fleetwood 1 (Clarke 90)

The Northern Echo:

Sunderland were already heading for victory when Clarke scored in stoppage time against Fleetwood – but his goal ensured there would be no nervy ending as the Black Cats claimed a deserved three points.

Luke O’Nien’s 82nd-minute finish handed Sunderland the lead after Elliot Embleton’s goal had cancelled out a first-half opener from Ellis Harrison, and Fleetwood were reduced to ten men with two minutes remaining when Zak Jules was sent off for a second caution.

Nevertheless, there was a sense of relief when Clarke made things safe, with the Tottenham loanee cutting in from the left flank before rifling a long-range finish into the right-hand corner.

March 12 - Sunderland 2 Crewe 0 (Roberts 89)

The Northern Echo:

Monday’s goal was not the first time Roberts had scored an important late strike this season – the winger also came up with the goods in the dying seconds of March’s win over Crewe.

A scrappy affair had looked like petering out into a draw when the game was still goalless heading into the final ten minutes, but Dan Neil broke the deadlock with six minutes remaining as he fired home a first-time finish after being teed up by Stewart.

Roberts made things safe with one minute left, timing his run into the box perfectly to receive a square pass from Clarke and lash home.

April 2 - Sunderland 1 Gillingham 0 (Broadhead 90)

The Northern Echo: Nathan Broadhead

Having briefly dropped out of the play-off places, Sunderland returned to the top six at the start of April thanks to Nathan Broadhead’s stoppage-time strike against Gillingham.

The striker had started the game on the bench, and only come onto the field as a 69th-minute replacement for Alex Pritchard.

He had a decisive impact, firing home a crucial winner in the fifth and final minute of stoppage time. Elliot Embleton crossed from the right-hand side, and Broadhead peeled away from his marker before twisting to angle a header into the bottom corner.

April 9 - Oxford 1 Sunderland 2 (Embleton 89)

The Northern Echo:

With the play-off race hotting up, Elliot Embleton struck with one minute remaining at the Kassam Stadium to earn Sunderland a priceless victory over one of their main promotion rivals. And like Broadhead a week before him, he came off the bench to do it.

Having taken a 15th-minute lead through Corry Evans, the Black Cats were pegged back when Elliott Moore headed home from a free-kick towards the end of the first half.

Broadhead had an effort blocked on the line as Sunderland pushed for a winner, and their persistence was rewarded in the 89th minute. Just four minutes after leaving the bench, Embleton ghosted in at the back post to slot home after Stewart prodded the ball into his path.

April 15 - Sunderland 3 Shrewsbury 2 (Broadhead 90)

The Northern Echo:

For the second time in the space of a fortnight, Broadhead popped up in stoppage time to turn a draw in a victory. Given how close the race for the play-off places became, it was to prove a brace of absolutely crucial interventions.

Having claimed a two-goal lead in the opening 13 minutes thanks to efforts from Embleton and Broadhead, Sunderland suffered something of a second-half collapse as Josh Vela and former Black Cat Tom Flanagan both scored in front of the Roker End at the Stadium of Light.

However, the Black Cats successfully built up a late head of steam, and after Clarke swung over a cross from the left, Broadhead glanced in a back header that evaded Shrews goalkeeper Marko Marosi and found the back of the net.

April 26 - Sunderland 1 Rotherham 1 (Ihiekwe own goal, 88)

The Northern Echo: Rotherham goalkeeper Viktor Johansson shows his disappointment after Michael Ihiekwe's own goal

Sunderland hosted title-chasing Rotherham in their penultimate game of the regular League One season, and knew they had to claim at least a point to ensure they headed to Morecambe on the final weekend with their play-off fate in their own hands.

Things were not going to plan when Michael Ihiekwe headed the Millers in front in the first half, but the Rotherham centre-half was to make another crucial intervention at the opposite end with two minutes remaining.

Clarke crossed in the ball from the left-hand side, and even though there was not really a Sunderland player anywhere near him, a panicked Ihiekwe inexplicably arrowed a bullet header into the roof of his own net.

May 9 - Sheffield Wednesday 1 Sunderland 1 (Roberts 90)

The Northern Echo:

Having produced an excellent defensive performance to protect their one-goal advantage, Sunderland conceded with 16 minutes remaining at Hillsborough.

Lee Gregory converted Marvin Johnson’s low cross to level things up on aggregate, and while referee James Linington decided there would be ten minutes of stoppage time, extra-time looked an inevitability as the clock ticked past the 90-minute mark.

Cue a moment of magic from Clarke and Roberts. The former broke down the left-hand side to deliver a low ball into the area, and the latter stole ahead of his marker after bursting infield from the right to slot home. Sunderland were 2-1 up on aggregate – and heading to Wembley.