Championship - Play-off final: Classic moments

Eurosport - Fri, 21 May 09:07:00 2010

Dubbed the world's richest football match with 60million available to the promoted winners, the Championship play-off final has produced some classic finals. Ahead of Blackpool's meeting with Cardiff, we look back at some of its best moments.

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1993: Swindon Town 4-3 Leicester City

In Hod We Trust. Swindon will contest this season's League One final against Millwall, but it was not so long ago that Glenn Hoddle was leading the club a merry dance into the Premier League. Denied a place among England's elite after winning promotion in 1990 due to financial problems, the elegant former England midfielder oversaw a posse of rocking Robins at Wembley. Having recovered personal ground six years after sporting a mullet and recording Diamond Lights with Chris Waddle on Top of the Pops, Hod's name was up in bright lights.

This was quite simply a throbbing meeting with Leicester City. Goals from Hoddle, Craig Maskell and Shaun Taylor saw Swindon take a 3--0 lead after an hour or so at the old Wembley, but they had unknowingly yet to ringfence their promotion.

In a frantic 12-minute period, Leicester came bouncing back with Julian Joachim, Steve Walsh and Steve Thompson levelling matters. Astonishingly, Swindon regrouped to seal the win in normal time. Kevin Poole fouled Steve White and Paul Bodin thumped the penalty low into the corner of a net. Hoddle enjoyed some rip-snorting moments at Wembley, but this looked as good as any of them.

1995: Bolton Wanderers 4-3 Reading (after extra-time)

Bruce Rioch and Bolton made of couple of sojourns to Wembley in 1995. The first saw them lose 2-1 to Liverpool in the League Cup final before they come across Reading in the final. Rioch was destined for an ill-fated season at Arsenal a season or so later, but his ticker did well to survive this afternoon. Bolton had a number of protruding names in their starting select, men such as Alan Stubbs, Alan Thompson, Jason McAteer and Owen Coyle, but Reading set a blistering pace.

Lee Nogan and Adrian Williams enabled Reading to seize a two-goal lead after 12 minutes. McAteer was allowed to stay on the park after hauling down Michael Gilkes 10 minutes before half-time. Keith Branagan saved Stuart Lovell's penalty prompting a greater Bolton escape. Coyle and Fabian De Freitas forced the game to extra-time, but they weren't finished there. De Freitas and Mixu Paatelainen scored to render meaningless Jimmy Quinn's last-minute reply for Reading. Bolton had joined the Premier League.

1998: Sunderland 4-4 Charlton (Charlton won 7-6 on penalties after extra-time)

Peter Reid has looked a bit gaunt of late after his spell managing the Thailand national team, but he must have been feeling slightly peaky after such an arduous day with Sunderland back in 1998. Clive Mendonca had supported the Black Cats as a boy, but proved to be their black sheep as a man. The old Wembley had witnessed seven goals in the previous fives finals. This match took it one step further. Mendonca gave Charlton the lead only for Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips to reply for Sunderland.

Mendonca restored parity as the sides continued to trade some pulverising blows. "When will it cease?" shrieked an excited commentator. Quinn made it 3-2 with a volley, but Richard Rufus rose highest to head the equaliser. The game continued to trade dramatic moments. Nicky Summerbee restored Sunderland's lead, but Mendonca finalised his hat-trick to forced the game to penalties. Michael Gray was left crestfallen as Sasa Ilic saved his penalty to ensure Charlton's win.

2000: Barnsley 2-4 Ipswich Town

It was not quite revisiting those Uefa Cup-winning days of the early 1980s, but Ipswich enjoyed something of a renaissance in the early part of the last decade. They finished fifth in the Premier League to qualify for Europe and George Burley was named the Premier League's manager of the year.

But before all those shenanigans came this final at the old Wembley. Tony Mowbray placed a header into the roof of the net for the equaliser after Barnsley had gone ahead courtesy of an own goal by Richard Wright. Richard Naylor and Marcus Stewart struck to give Ipswich a 3-1 lead.

Craig Hignett gave Barnsley slight hope with a penalty kick, but that was snuffed out when Martijn Reuser added a fourth in the final minute. The Tractor Boys were destined for the higher reaches of the English game.

2006: Leeds United 0-3 Watford

Probably not the greatest final, but this result in itself was an emblem of what can go wrong for a club when they are not in the Premier League. Leeds got stuffed against Watford only five years after they were jousting with Valencia for a spot in the Champions League final.

Jay De Merit, James Chambers and a Darius Henderson penalty was enough to extinguish Leeds' hopes of a rapid return to the Premier League. A year later, amid the legacy of millions pounds of debt from overspending in the early part of the decade, Leeds went into administration and were relegated to League One.

Watford would spend only one year in the Premier League before they returned to the Championship.


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