Soccer

Darren Moore: Joint effort led Sheffield Wednesday to promotion

Darren Moore guided his team to promotion (Mike Egerton/PA)
Darren Moore guided his team to promotion (Mike Egerton/PA) Darren Moore guided his team to promotion (Mike Egerton/PA)

Sheffield Wednesday boss Darren Moore saluted a “joint effort” from his players after their dramatic late 1-0 win over 10-man South Yorkshire rivals Barnsley sealed a return to the Championship.

Josh Windass won the tie with the last action of 120-plus exhausting minutes as he emulated his dad Dean 15 years ago by bagging a dream play-off final winner.

Moore, whose Owls team return to the second tier after two seasons in League One, said: “This is a special moment – it’s a delightful moment for everyone at the club.

“It means so much to me to have taken such a great club back into the Championship.

“This shows just what can be achieved when a club comes together.

“I’m delighted for Josh. We’ve missed him quite a lot through injuries this season, but he’s got that quality and that instinct to get into the right place to score in those situations.

“It’s not just about Josh, though, it’s been a brilliant joint effort.

“Sometimes it’s about split hairs, and this was a big game at the biggest stadium, but we’ve got over the line when so much was at stake.

“It’s the stuff dreams are made of – it’s been a titanic game and we’ve won it.

“Despite having the extra man our boys were wilting a bit in extra time, but they’ve dug deep.

“Both teams gave it everything, it was incredible stuff, but this is so big for the football club and we have to go and enjoy being back in a Championship league that is so exciting.”

Chances proved to be at a premium in the opening 45 minutes.

Barnsley went closest as both Adam Phillips and Nicky Cadden fluffed decent opportunities.

Barnsley’s cause was then hindered significantly by Phillips’ 49th minute red card following a lunge on Lee Gregory, but they more than held their own as the scores remained goalless after 90 minutes.

However, their resistance, and their hearts, were finally broken with the last action of the game, leaving boss Michael Duff to reflect with pride on what had been an energy-sapping 120 minutes for his players.

Duff said: “Football is a cruel game, and frustration is the over-riding emotion I’m feeling right now.

“My players gave absolutely everything, they did everything they could and so I’m gutted for all of them.

“We’ve come out on the wrong end of a couple of decisions today, and that just adds to the frustration.

“With 11 men we would have grown more into the game, and although there’s no guarantee we would even have gone on to win on penalties, I think that would have been a fairer way to lose.

“Credit to Sheffield Wednesday and Darren Moore. They got 96 points in the regular season, but I don’t think they were the better team today.”

Duff then expanded on the Phillips red card decision and also a potential penalty award that went begging.

“Adam’s was a mis-timed tackle and a bit foolish,” added Duff.

“But there was no intent there so it was maybe a yellow card at worst.

“I’ve had plenty of text messages since the game saying it was a harsh red card, and many of them from people I totally trust in the game.

“We’ve also not had a penalty all season, and we’ve been denied what should have been one in the biggest game of all.”