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  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear at Wembley Stadium

Owls sneak it at the death as Windass emulates his dad to see off Barnsley

League One Play-Off Final

Barnsley 0

Sheffield Wednesday 1 Windass 120

After extra time

In the end, the force was with Darren Moore and the Owls. But boy did they leave it late to finally get the better of a 10-man Barnsley.

We were into stoppage time in extra time when a few final tired limbs mounted an attack and a cross from the left was met by a beautiful diving header from Josh Windass – Keith Houchen-style.

It was the very last act of the game as the whistle blew immediately after the restart.

Astonishingly, he repeats the feat of dad Dean in scoring the winner in a Wembley play-off final as his father’s goal secured Hull’s passage to the Premier League in 2008 at the expense of Bristol City.

Ever since they somehow extricated themselves from a 4-0 first-leg semi-final defeat to Peterborough United at the start of the play-offs, the Owls seemed destined to get the job done.

They were mightily unlucky to miss out on automatic promotion after a titanic three-way battle with Plymouth and Ipswich for the top two places. In any other year their 96 points would have been more than enough.

They, like Notts County in the National League play-offs, were the ones desperate to make sure a massive points haul had not all been for nothing.

And then there was the Sheffield United factor driving them on. With the Blades having earned promotion to the top flight, the last thing they wanted to do was feel sorry for themselves next season, two divisions below their city rivals.

The only snag was that near neighbours Barnsley – who finished with 10 fewer points - had twice inflicted defeat on them in the regular League One season and they too are a proud Yorkshire outfit, even if their numbers are much smaller.

Wednesday’s blue and white striped fans encroached deep into Tykes territory as an overspill from the packed east end of the stadium. By contrast, Barnsley did not have enough bodies to populate the upper tier of their own end.

A scrappy affair offered few hints of a goal but a decisive mood-shift came five minutes into the second half when a reckless lunge at the ball by Adam Phillips took out Lee Gregory and referee Tim Robinson, having given himself a moment or two to reflect, brandished a red card.

As it happens, Barnsley very nearly stole in front after that when Liam Kitching directed a Nicky Cadden drive onto the bar with his head, and Cadden powered a drive at keeper Cameron Dawson in their next attack.

In between those two moments, the cultured Owls skipper Barry Bannan curled agonisingly wide, but James Norwood’s rasping near-post drive was further evidence of the Tykes refusing to kow-tow to their numerical disadvantage.

In extra-time, Bannan shot onto the roof of the net before testing keeper Harry Isted with a low strike. At the other end, Luca Connell missed a golden opening but skewed horribly wide, with glory beckoning.

Penalties seemed inevitable, even in a contest between unequal sides. When Will Vaulks fired in a fine shot from the edge of the area to send the Sheffield end into raptures, a linesman’s flag went up to throttle the elation. Nobody was surprised.

But there was to be one last twist to deny us another Wembley penalty saga.

Barnsley: (3-5-2) Isted – Thomas, Andersen, Kitching – Williams, Phillips [Sent-off 49], Connell, Kane (Benson 72) (Russell 90), Cadden (Watters 105) – Tedic (Norwood h/t), Cole (Thomas 72). Subs not used: Collins, Cundy

Wednesday: (3-4-1-2) Dawson – Iorfa, Ihiekwe, James (Hunt 103) – Paterson (Vaulks 79), Palmer, Bannan (Dele-Bashiru 116), Johnson – Windass – Smith, Gregory. Subs not used: Stockdale, Brown, Adeniran, Flint

Attendance: 74,292


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