Josh Windass scored the decisive goal in the League One play-off final, securing a dramatic victory for Sheffield Wednesday over 10-man Barnsley. With the match appearing destined for a penalty shootout, Windass’s header, expertly placed beyond goalkeeper Harry Isted, elevated the Owls to the Championship at the expense of their South Yorkshire rivals.
The defeat was harsh on Barnsley, who were reduced to 10 men in the 49th minute. Adam Phillips received a straight red for a reckless challenge on Lee Gregory. In a thrilling period of extra time, Isted made outstanding saves against Michael Smith and Barry Bannan. Meanwhile, Luca Connell missed a golden opportunity for the Reds. However, it was Sheffield Wednesday who delivered the ultimate blow with a last-gasp winner.
The Owls’ promotion in such a remarkable manner seemed fitting given their impressive journey to the Wembley showdown. Under the guidance of manager Darren Moore, the team had appeared destined for automatic promotion with an outstanding unbeaten run of 23 games, setting a club record. Unfortunately, their hopes were dashed when Barnsley defeated them 4-2 in March. They ultimately finished third in the league, behind Plymouth and Ipswich, with 96 points. It was the highest tally ever not to secure automatic promotion.
Their promotion dreams took another hit when they suffered a crushing 4-0 defeat in the first leg of the play-off semi-final against Peterborough. However, Sheffield Wednesday produced a stunning comeback, with an equalising aggregate after the final kick of the 90 minutes in the second leg. The game eventually went to a penalty shootout. This was the first time a team had overcome a deficit of more than 2-0 in a play-off semi-final.
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For large portions of the League One final, it appeared that the Owls’ heroics against Peterborough would be the highlight of their campaign. However, in the dying seconds, Windass displayed incredible athleticism, powerfully heading Gregory’s cross into the net.