Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley’s play-off final records heading into huge Wembley clash

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Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley will do battle in a play-off final for the first time on May 29th – and both teams have tasted success since the format came into use.

English football first introduced the play-off system at the end of the 1986/87 season, but it wasn’t until the turn of the millennium that either the Owls or their South Yorkshire neighbours took part. Of the two, Barnsley were the first to play in them but Wednesday were the first team in the metropolitan country to be successful in them.

Darren Moore’s side are currently playing in the club’s fifth play-off campaign, and since winning it back in 2005 they’d managed to do progressively worse each time until this season. After 2005 they went on to lose in the 2016 final, lose on penalties in the 2017 semifinals and then lose over two straight legs in the 2021/22 campaign.

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On the plus side, though, they’ve only been in one final at this level – and they won that. They’ll be eager to keep that 100% record in the showpiece, though they face a side that will be looking to make it three for three in the third tier.

The Reds played in their first play-off campaign in 1999/00, and have since gone on to feature in three more - most recently when they came so close to returning to the Premier League in 2020/21. They’ve twice been successful at gaining promotion via the play-offs, and have won both of the League One finals that they’ve taken part in,

We took a look at the play-off finals that the two clubs have been involved in over the years to see how they fared on the big stage.

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Barnsley 2-4 Ipswich Town – May 29th 2000

Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley have both been successful in play-off finals before.Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley have both been successful in play-off finals before.
Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley have both been successful in play-off finals before.

A day to forget for the Tykes, who found themselves 3-1 down within an hour despite taking an early lead at the old Wembley through a Richard Wright own goal. Tony Mowbray, Richard Naylor and Marcus Stewart all scored to complete the turnaround though, giving Dave Bassett’s side a mountain to climb

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Craig Hignett gave them hope as he made it 3-2 with just over 10 minutes to go, but Martijn Reuser’s late strike meant that the Tractor Boys were heading back to the top-flight instead of them.

A day that lives long in the memory of any Wednesdayite that was there in Cardiff, and any who was watching it anywhere else in the world.

When Jon Daly made it 2-1 on the 71st minute it looked like it wouldn’t be the Owls’ day, but a late Steve MacLean penalty levelled things up and sent it to extra time.

Glenn Whelan gave them the lead once more in the 94th minute, and then young Drew Talbot finished the job with seconds remaining to secure a 4-2 victory.

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Barnsley 2-2 Swansea City – May 27th 2006

A drama-filled first half saw three goals scored and put Swansea in the driving seat, with Andy Robinson making it 2-1 five minutes before the half time break.

But Andy Ritchie’s side weren’t done yet, and Daniel Nardiello found the back of the net just after the hour mark to make it 2-2 and ultimately take the game past extra time and into a shootout.

Adebayo Akinfenwa and Alan Tate both missed from the spot as Barnsley scored all four, and they booked their spot in the 2006/07 Championship.

Hull City 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday – May 28th 2016

A day that will be remembered for the atmosphere rather than the game – or result for that matter – by Wednesdayites. Barry Bannan has since called it the ‘best worst day’ of his life, and with good reason.

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The crowd was superb, the game not-so-much, and it was a Mo Diame goal in the 72nd minute that dashed the Owls’ hopes of a long-awaited return to the top-flight. They’re still waiting.

Barnsley 3-1 Millwall – May 29th 2016

The following day it was the Reds’ turn at Wembley, and with current Sheffield United boss, Paul Heckingbottom, at the helm they walked away with a convincing 3-1 victory in the League One final.

Former Owl, Mark Beevers, got the only goal of the game for the Lions, but the Reds had too much on the day and Lloyd Isgrove wrapped things up with 15 minutes still left on the clock to seal the deal. They spent two seasons back in the Championship before being relegated again.

Sheffield Wednesday ?-? Barnsley – May 29th 2023

A big one. Not only are the two sides playing for a spot in the second tier of English football, but they’re also playing for local bragging rights as both sets of fans hope to see their side triumph so that they don’t have to listen to the gloating of the other side.

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Michael Duff’s men hold the upper hand this season having won 2-0 and 4-2 respectively in their league games, however Wednesday go into the game flying high on confidence having just completed the biggest play-off comeback of all time to beat Peterborough United.

The two haven’t met in a fixture that wasn’t a regular league game since back in the 2003 LDV Vans Trophy (which Wednesday won 1-0), and the Owls won every League Cup or FA Cup meeting since a 2-1 defeat in 1931.

It’s going to be a fascinating afternoon.