By Alex Bull
Sheffield Wednesday’s hopes of promotion were dashed on Monday night when Sunderland’s late goal ended the play-off semi-final, condemning the Owls to a second consecutive season in League One.
Despite a spirited performance from the team over the 90 minutes, it was in added time that Sunderland struck the killing blow with a 93rd minute goal that saw them advance to Wembley ahead of Sheffield Wednesday.
Disappointment for the Owls stemmed from errors according to manager Darren Moore, 48, who said post-match: “The two goals over the two legs that we conceded were avoidable goals. Goals through a lapse of concentration or an error. That’s cost us tonight.”
Mr Moore added: “Those are the things where football can be beautiful, and then the game can be so cruel.”
Both Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland are huge footballing institutions, with regularly high attendances and rich footballing history. As most would agree, neither team are where they should be playing in League One, meaning the tie was a huge occasion for both sets of fans.
The failure to achieve promotion is difficult for Sheffield Wednesday fans to take, as they had been an established Championship club alongside their local rivals Sheffield United since 2014, until they were relegated last season.
Long-time fan, John Reams, 63, said: “We’ve had a great season. I expected us to get promoted straight back (to the Championship) but we got unlucky.”
Another fan, Holly Weaver, 34, said: “Missing out on promotion is disappointing, but I think we played alright. Sunderland just seemed stronger in the game and the result is probably deserved.”
Mr Moore expressed his admiration for the fans, describing Monday’s atmosphere as “amazing”.
He thanked the fans for their contribution throughout the season and described it as a “tremendous, tremendous effort by everybody.”
The Owls came fourth in Sky Bet League One this year, collecting 85 points over the season, Only MK Dons, Rotherham and Wigan Athletic finished higher than them in the table. MK Dons were eliminated by Wycombe Wanderers in the other play-off semi-final, meaning Sunderland will face Wycombe at Wembley for the final.
Elsewhere, local rivals Sheffield United have their play-offs yet to be decided. They finished fifth in the Sky Bet Championship and will face in-form Nottingham Forest in the semi-finals.