Barnsley suffered late heartbreak in the Sky Bet League One play-off final at Wembley.
Josh Windass’ last gasp header three minutes into stoppage time at the end of extra-time was a devastating blow for the Reds, who played with 10 men from the 50th minute onwards following Adam Phillips’ dismissal.
It was cruel on our brave side – many of whom left the pitch in tears having given absolutely everything in this pulsating South Yorkshire derby.
From the first whistle, we fought tooth and nail, settling well and dictating the early exchanges as we looked to gain a foothold in the contest.
In truth, it was a cagey opening period, with both teams defending stoically and limiting efforts on their respective goals.
The best opportunities perhaps fell to Wednesday as Barry Bannan saw a close range strike headed clear by Bobby Thomas, before Dominic Iorfa forced a reflex save from Harry Isted.
Barnsley, meanwhile, had a few half-chances that were ballooned over the crossbar, with Phillips and Nicky Cadden firing high, while Thomas also nodded over from a Luca Connell corner.
HALF-TIME: Barnsley 0-0 Sheffield Wednesday
We came out brightly after the restart; the introduction of James Norwood for Slobodan Tedić gave us a different dimension in attack – more energy and directness.
The Reds had strong shouts for a penalty waved away when Liam Kitching appeared to be kicked inside the area, with VAR adjudging it not to be a foul.
Moments later, however, we were reduced to 10-men as Phillips was given his marching orders for a late challenge on Lee Gregory.
If anything, that seemed to galvanise Barnsley and we came agonisingly close to taking the lead when Kitching diverted Cadden’s fierce effort onto the crossbar with his head.
Cadden then stung the hands of Cameron Dawson, while Bannan curled an effort narrowly wide at the other end as the game began to open up.
With little over 10 minutes remaining, Norwood bundled his way beyond Reece James and surged into the box before unleashing a thunderous drive at goal that Dawson somehow clawed out of the top corner with a stunning save at his near post.
As time ticked away, Bannan sent one sailing well over the target as the referee blew his whistle to signal the end of normal time.
FULL-TIME (90 MINUTES): Barnsley 0-0 Sheffield Wednesday
Wednesday looked to utilise their numerical and physical advantage in the first few minutes of extra-time and had a great opportunity to break the deadlock, only for Mads Andersen to hack Michael Ihiekwe’s header off the line.
Isted then produced one of the great Wembley saves – flinging himself to his right to thwart Michael Smith from point blank range – before Jordan Williams bravely blocked Gregory’s follow-up.
As the pressure mounted, Bannan was next to be denied by Isted, who plunged to his right once more to tip a curling strike around the base of the post.
Having survived those scares, we broke at pace through Kitching. He found Luke Thomas, who squared for Connell, but the diminutive midfielder somehow steered wide from six-yards with the goal gaping.
HALF-TIME (EXTRA-TIME): Barnsley 0-0 Sheffield Wednesday
Just moments into the second period of extra-time, Will Vaulks crashed one into the top corner, but the celebrations were premature as play was brough back for an offside in the build-up.
With four minutes remaining, Andersen threw himself in front of Gregory’s goalbound strike from close range to prevent the Owls from taking the lead.
It looked as though we had done enough to force a penalty shootout, only for Windass to steer home a late header with virtually the last touch of the game.
While the scars of this devastating defeat may last for a while, the Reds can take enormous pride – not only from the way they conducted themselves in this fixture, but from their efforts over the course of a gruelling campaign.
We will be back next season, stronger for the hurt and hungrier to succeed.
FULL-TIME (EXTRA-TIME): Barnsley 0-1 Sheffield Wednesday
REDS XI: Isted (GK), Williams, B Thomas, Andersen (C), Kitching, Cadden (Watters, 106), Phillips, Connell, Kane (J Benson, 72) (Russell, 90), Tedić (Norwood, 46), Cole (L Thomas, 72).
Not used: Collins (GK), Cundy.
OWLS XI: Dawson (GK), Palmer, Iorfa, Gregory, Bannan (C) (Dele-Bashiru, 116), Windass, Paterson (Vaulks, 79), Johnson, Ihiekwe, Smith, James.
Not used: Stockdale (GK), Brown, Adeniran, Hunt, Flint.