15 years ago, Paul Sturrock’s Wednesday side lined up against Hartlepool United in the 2005 League One Play-Off final without their leading scorer, however the Scottish number nine was deemed fit enough to make it onto the bench – just.
With the Owls 2-1 down with just under 15 minutes to go, Sturrock used all of his rolls of the dice at once as he brought on MacLean, Drew Talbot and Patrick Collins all at once in a move that proved to be a masterstroke.
Less than five minutes later, Talbot was brought down in the box and Wednesday had a chance to level things up.
MacLean hadn’t played since March, and he’d only just come on, but after scoring 18 goals in the league and one in the LDV Vans Trophy, nobody was going to stop him from becoming the first Wednesday player since Mark Bright in 1993/94 to score 20+ times.
Speak to Tom Whitworth for his 2016 book, Owls: Sheffield Wednesday through the Modern Era’, ‘Macca’ said, “I definitely fancied it. I remember Chris (Brunt) saying to me, ‘Do you want it?’ Obviously I’d not been on the pitch long, but I grabbed the ball… There was no way anybody was taking it off me. Normally I’m quite a laid-back person and I did feel a lot of pressure, but I was quite confident I’d score.
“It wasn’t the greatest of penalties ever, the keeper got a hand to it, but it crossed the line. The feeling when it went in was exceptional, one of my best feelings in football.”
Now, 15 years later, only Neil Mellor in 2010/11 has managed to be that ’20-goal-a-season man’ that so many teams desire, however there is still time for Steven Fletcher (currently on 13) to change that in 2019/20, even if it is a long shot with nine games to go.