Sheffield Wednesday secured promotion to the EFL Championship yesterday with a 1-0 win over Yorkshire rivals Barnsley at Wembley. It was in the dying seconds - of the second half of extra time - where Josh Windass made history and scored a reminiscent goal of his father Dean's winner for Hull City in the Championship final 15 years prior.
Barnsley had been reduced to 10-men early in the second half due to a controversial Adam Phillips' red card. It was only following the red-card where we saw a shift in the game, for both sides, and we began to see the Tykes find their groove both in attack and defence. Barnsley fended well for themselves up until the very last breath of the game - which I'm sure for their fans makes the loss and the fashion of the loss even harder to stomach, as they now look on and prepare for another season in League One.
This achievement marks the Owls' return to the second tier after a two-year absence. Their season has been nothing short of remarkable, accumulating 96 points, the highest in their club history for a campaign. Most believe they should have had the league title wrapped up months ago, however a dip in form had the consequential effect of dragging the Owls' fans through the drama of the playoffs. Most notably, their 4-0 comeback in the semi-finals against Peterborough.
The match remained largely uneventful in the first half, but the second half quickly escalated in intensity. Shortly after the break, Barnsley believed they should have been awarded a penalty after Lee Gregory fouled Liam Kitching in the box. The referee and VAR disagreed. Within minutes, Barnsley found themselves down to 10 as Phillips received a red card for a lunging foul on Gregory. The decision seemed harsh, yet VAR chose not to intervene.
Despite having the numerical advantage, Wednesday struggled to break the tie. The game proceeded into extra-time where heroic saves from Barnsley's Harry Isted, a missed opportunity from Luca Connell and a disallowed screamer of a goal from Will Vaulks for the Owls made it appear that the match would be decided by a penalty shootout. Josh Windass had other ideas slipping in the winner and being the hero for the sea of Owl's fans in attendance at Wembley.
Now, what can we expect from Sheffield Wednesday returning to the Championship amongst other sleeping and returning giants such as Leeds United and Leicester City coming down from the Premier League? We have already read through the comments online and the expectations from opposition fans much seems to be relegation for the Owls. What we currently understand is Wednesday chairman Chansiri is due to meet with manager Darren Moore within the next few days to discuss future plans before finalizing the club's retained list. Whether this is also to express summer transfer plans, we're unsure. However, It does appear that the 12th man has been the deciding factor for the Owls over the entirety of the season and we can only imagine the interest surrounding Wednesday has grown in the city following their promotion yesterday. We feel the 12th man is sure to be their biggest asset going into a new campaign in the Championship and their voices should hopefully spur them out of any danger, but it is also important there is some healthy transfers and decision making to reward that support. We are predicting a bold mid-table finish for the Owls.
“The journey now continues. The next stop is the Championship - one step closer to where we all want our wonderful club to be.” - Dejphon Chansiri