10 unbelievable promotion play-off moments

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A gruelling 46-game season culminates in the promotion playoffs, which kick off with League Two on Friday night (AEST), while the EFL Championship gets underway on Saturday. 

A winning goal or moment of magic immortalises players in club folklore, while a slip up carries equal weight and has plagued an unenviable few for the rest of their careers.

This weekend's promotion play-offs promise plenty of fireworks, If this top 10 is anything to go by.

10)  Revell's rocket rescues Rotherham

Rotherham’s bid for consecutive promotions was in serious doubt with Leyton Orient leading their League One playoff final 2-0 at half-time.

That was until Alex Revell took matters into his own hands, scoring twice in five minutes to kickstart Rotherham’s remarkable turnaround.

Rotherham went on to win in a tense penalty shootout, and Revell’s second strike is still regarded as one of the greatest goals ever scored at Wembley.

9) Gray rues shootout horror

Self-proclaimed Sunderland fan Clive Mendonca ran riot against his beloved club, scoring three goals to help Chalrton fight back three times to force the match into extra time.

At 4-4, neither side could be separated and it went to penalties, where the first 14 spot-kicks were dispatched.

That was, until Sunderland’s Michael Gray was denied by Charlton shot-stopper Sasa Ilic, a miss which cost the Black Cats promotion and would go down as the darkest day in his 18-year career.  

8) A dog day afternoon for Huddersfield

Huddersfield fans were beaming with confidence with their side 1-0 ahead on aggregate heading into the second leg of its League One playoff semi final against Barnsely in 2006.

However, the tie was turned on its head after Barnsley substitute Chris Shuker tripped up Huddersfiled’s mascot Terry the Terrier in frustration, which sent the loveable canine tumbling.

A scuffle ensued and the tactic appeared to pay off in the end as  Barnsley as it scored twice to seal a final showdown against Swansea, as the terriers left (stadium) licking their wounds.

7) The curse of the Imps 

Days before the start of the 2002-2003 season, Lincoln City FC was in administration and the bookies’ favourite to be relegated.

Those bookies were served humble pie when the Imps made a fairytale run to the Playoff final, where they lost to Bournemouth 5-3.

To add insult to injury, Lincoln City reached the playoffs in the five consecutive seasons to follow, and fell short every time.

6)  Mooy inspires Huddersfield fairytale

Huddersfield seemingly overachieved all season under David Wagner and was widely tipped to come up short In its bid to achieve top flight status for the first time since 1972.

With Australia  star Aaron Mooy pulling the strings in midfield, the Terriers fought their way to the Play-offs, beating Sheffield Wednesday in a tense semi-final, before holding its nerve once again from the spot to beat Reading in the showpiece at Wembley.


5) Chaos in the Den

Derby was prepared for a hostile reception when it travelled to the Den to face Millwall in the second leg of their Playoff Semi final in 1994, and the fans’ ultras lived up to their infamous reputation.

The home side lost 3-1 on the night, with 33 minutes of play interrupted by two pitch invasions, 30 ejected supporters, 20 arrests.

4) Manchester City gets out of jail

Manchester City fans began to clear out of Wembley with their side trailing 2-0 to Gillingham in the final minute of their Second division playoff final in 1999.

Gillingham fans were elated, chanting ‘we’re going up’ as the seconds counted down. Que one of the most dramatic late fight-backs in playoff history.

Kevin Horlock pulled one back for City in stoppage time, before Paul Dickov equalised in the 95th minute to force the game into extra time. Gillingham dispatched a one spot kick in a horror penalty shootout and Manchester City sealed promotion.

A reminder for both sets of fans to play to the final whistle.

3) Swindon wins, then loses

Swindon went from hero to zero 10 days after beating Sunderland in their Second Division playoff final. Instead of promotion, Swindown was relegated twice to the third Division for sanctioning illegal payments.

A slice of luck for the Black Cats, who were promoted despite losing the playoff final.

 2) Windass ends Hulls 104-year hoodoo

Dean Windass immortalised himself as a Hull City legend after his wondergoal sealed Premier League status for the tigers for the first time in 104 years.

Fraizer Campbell clipped it up for Windass who was unmarked at the top of the box, and the Hull local did the rest, scoring the most iconic goal in the club’s history.

1) Watford goes end-to-end in thriller

Leicester and Watford were headed for extra time in the second leg of their EFL playoff semi-final in 2013. That was until the most chaotic 15 seconds witnessed on a football pitch ensued.

Leicester had the chance to steal the win deep in stoppage time, when Anthony Knockaert won a penalty in controversial circumstances.

Watford’s Manuel Almunia pulled off a remarkable double save and the Hornets immediately hit Leicester on the counter and Troy Deeney slotted home to send Watford through to the final.

Cue the chaos.

The heartbreak for Leicester fans was short-lived, as the Foxes sealed top flight promotion one year later and remarkably won the league in 2016.