Barnsley 0-1 Sheff Wed: Last-gasp Windass winner earns Owls promotion
Sheffield Wednesday are heading back to the Championship following a two-year absence after they sealed the most dramatic of 1-0 victories over Barnsley in the League One play-off final.
Josh Windass was the Owls hero – following in the footsteps of play-off final winning dad Dean – with the last action of extra-time as he dived in to breath-takingly head home Lee Gregory’s pinpoint cross.
More than 40,000 ecstatic Owls celebrated wildly at the death after their team had finally seen off a gutsy Barnsley side who had played with 10 men following Adam Phillips’ 49th minute red card.
Wembley was again bathed in sunshine as the Owls made the more purposeful start.
Barry Bannan saw an early volley deflected wide after the Barnsley defence failed to clear Windass’ low cross.
From the resultant corner, unmarked defender Dominic Iorfa fired in an effort which Harry Isted palmed away superbly.
Barnsley, who had done the double over the Owls in the regular campaign, threatened first when Phillips blazed over after meeting Slobodan Tedic’s perfect cushioned header.
As the half-hour mark approached, both sides seemed to have settled somewhat amid the white-hot atmosphere, but goalmouth incident was proving elusive.
Another decent Barnsley opportunity then went begging.
Luca Connell’s corner was only half-cleared by Bannan, straight into the path of Nicky Cadden, who again smashed wastefully over the top from 15 yards.
Michael Duff’s men, who had barely half the amount of supporters inside the stadium compared to Wednesday, ended the first period just about on top.
With defences largely on top, both sides needed to step it up in the second period.
However, a huge potential turning point came four minutes after the restart when Barnsley midfielder Phillips lunged in on Wednesday striker Lee Gregory, earning himself a straight red card from referee Tim Robinson.
Incredibly, Barnsley were thwarted by the woodwork five minutes later, when Liam Kitching diverted Cadden’s initial strike onto the crossbar.
As the game was now opening up at both ends, Bannan curled an exquisite strike inches past the angle.
The Owls had now wrestled back the initiative in what was rapidly turning into a thriller, and Windass fizzed a low drive just off target.
Iorfa also headed over the top as a breakthrough remained elusive.
The 10 men of Barnsley were proving tough to break down, while at the other end they almost struck with 12 minutes left before the game was to head into extra-time.
Substitute James Norwood charged ominously past Reece James before crashing in a shot which Cameron Dawson beat away superbly.
Both sides went mighty close to an opener in a frenetic first period of extra-time.
Michael Ihiekwe, Michael Smith and Bannan all failed to take opportunities for the Owls, while the otherwise impressive Connell incredibly missed an open goal for Barnsley.
The drama dissipated in the final 15 minutes, until that unforgettable last play of the game when Windass finally broke brave Barnsley’s resistance.