Top 10 Championship Play-Off Moments

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10. Spectacular Strikes Reward Monster Season - Burnley (2009)

The 2008/09 season for the Clarets was a monstrous campaign. The typical 46-game league season also saw the FA Cup fifth round have a replay, whilst the League Cup run witnessed them knockout Bury and Oldham before Spurs scored late on in the semi-finals over two legs to knock them out.

In the play-offs, they might just have the best collection of goals seen at this stage. After a Graham Alexander penalty at Turf Moor, Burnley turned on the style at the Madejski Stadium against Reading, as Martin Paterson scored a fierce 35-yard strike.

Six minutes later, Steven Thompson sparked crazy scenes in the away end, after he outwrestled the defender and hit a beautiful left-footed half volley in off the bar. At Wembley, Wade Elliott sent the 37,000 Burnley fans mental with a sweet 25-yard curler in the first half, although a second yellow for Jamie Ward with 1- minutes to go meant Burnley had to just concentrate.

It may not have been the most glorious of finals, but the goal meant the club had returned to the place they ungracefully fell from after three decades and an arduous 61 matches.

9. Hoddle inspires Robins - Swindon (1993)

The first play-off classic.

Swindon Town met Leicester City at Wembley with a seat at the Premiership table on the line. Leicester had been in the top-flight before and were at Wembley a year earlier.

Swindon were looking for a first top-flight season in their history and player-manager Glenn Hoddle put Swindon 1-0 up with a calm finish before further goals from Craig Maskell and Shaun Taylor made it 3-0 with 53 minutes played.

Leicester City scored three times in the next 17 minutes and this was the first was from Julian Joachim after the ball rebounded off the post. Steve Walsh got the second as a looped cross in was met by Walsh, out-muscling the goalkeeper. A minute late, Steve Thompson had Leicester level.

However, in the 83rd-minute, substitute Steve White was fouled in the area and Paul Bodin slotted the penalty home as Swindon Town were promoted to the Premier League.

8. The revenge for Spygate

Leeds United and Derby County, two of English football’s fallen giants met in the play-off semi-finals that was filled with backstory.

During the regular season, Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa sent a “spy” to watch Derby train and it caused one of modern football's biggest controversies.

A Kemar Roofe goal at Pride Park saw Leeds carry a 1-0 lead back to Elland Road. Stuart Dallas had Leeds dreaming of Wembley when he put them 2-0 up in the tie. Jack Marriott's first touch of the ball ended up in a goal, after a mix up in the Leeds defence.

Early in the second half, Mason Mount chipped Kiko Casilla to give Derby further hope. A Harry Wilson penalty and a Dallas aggregate equaliser followed. All this before Marriott sent Derby to Wembley after a through ball from captain Richard Keogh. This game had everything, including two red cards as well.


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7. Adam guide’s Tangerine Army Up - Blackpool (2010)

Blackpool had one of the craziest play-off runs seen.

The first leg of the semi-final saw the Seasiders’ ahead after trailing, with a Charlie Adam penalty giving them the advantage against Nottingham Forest. Madness ensued at the City Ground as Forest equalised through Robert Earnshaw early on and as DJ Campbell scored a hat-trick along with a Stephen Dobbie goal within 23 minutes meant that a second from Earnshaw and an injury-time goal from Bamberdele Adebola were nothing but consolations.

The Seasiders arrived at Wembley with Cardiff their opponents, although they found themselves 1-0 down early on thanks to Michael Chopra. Adam scored a superb free-kick to equalise before Joe Ledley fired Cardiff back in front in the 21st minute and two goals before half-time from Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Brett Omerod sent Blackpool to the Premier League for the first time.

6. Vaz Te Punishes Wasteful Blackpool - West Ham (2012)

Two years later, West Ham United and Blackpool met at the national stadium for the right to immediately return to the Premier League and despite a 12-point gap between the two sides in the regular season, the final was unpredictable.

Carlton Cole had given West Ham the lead in the first half with a clever finish after a Matt Taylor lofted pass as Tom Ince equalised two minutes into the second half.

Ricardo Vaz Te punished a wasteful Blackpool. A ball into the box by Kevin Nolan was poorly defended by Blackpool and the then ball bounced around before the Portuguese striker fired into the roof of the net to send the Hammers into at Wembley into delirium as Sam Allardyce returned to the Premier League.

5. Zamora Punishes Another Wasteful Side - QPR (2014)

Another example of the biggest thing in the play-offs: take your chances.

QPR took theirs early on and, Derby didn’t take their many. The Rams dominated this final as they created chance after chance, especially after QPR midfielder Gary O’Neill was sent off for a cynical last-man challenge with 30 minutes remaining.

Derby applied the pressure and had a few good chances that they couldn’t convert with Chris Martin getting the closest, striking the post. In the 90th minute though, Junior Hollett stole the ball on the by-line from the Derby defence and crossed into a dangerous area, but as Richard Keogh got his clearance totally wrong and it fell to Bobby Zamora to fire home.

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4. At the Fourth Time of Asking - Ipswich (2000)


If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try and try again.

Having failed to win in the semi-finals between 1997 and 1999, their fans got a lasting view of the old Wembley Stadium as they played Barnsley in 2000. After seeing off Bolton Wanderers to reach the final, they had an awful start as Richard Wright scored an own goal.

A strong, back-post header from Tony Mowbray meant that the sides were level at the break and in the 52nd minute, Richard Naylor scored tidily from a flick on to give the Tractorboys the lead. Six minutes later, Mowbray played a superb long pass forward which was expertly controlled by Naylor and he played the ball wide and Marcus Stewart powered the header home to give Ipswich daylight.

Mowbray continued to be in the spotlight, as he gave Barnsley some hope when brought down Geoff Thomas inside the box, with Craig Hignett dispatching the penalty.

Barnsley pushed for an equaliser, Naylor intercepted and played through substitute Martijn Reuser. The Dutchman sprinted through and fired the ball past the despairing Kevin Miller to seal the promotion Ipswich so craved.

3. The Best Play-Off Final - Charlton (1998)

You can’t speak about the play-offs without bringing up this mental game between Sunderland and Charlton Athletic.

Clive Mendonca scored first for Charlton, brilliantly turning the defender before scoring wonderfully. Early into the second half though, Niall Quinn equalised for Sunderland. He met a corner at the front post with a diving header. By the hour mark, Sunderland led through Kevin Phillips.

Mendonca brought down a lobbed ball from Richard Ruffus and again fired into the bottom left corner to equalise and Charlton were only level for two minutes as Quinn scored again.

The game went to extra time and Sunderland struck first in extra time, through Nicky Summerbee. The right midfielder hit a fierce shot into the bottom corner. Mendonca had his hat-trick after controlling a cross and volley home to send the play-off final to penalties for the first time.

With both teams having a perfect record from their first six penalties, Shaun Newton put the Addicks ahead. Sunderland left-back Michael Gray had his weak penalty saved by Illic and Charlton had won promotion, in what is regarded the best play-off final.

2. Hometown Hero - Hull City (2008)

Dean Windass provided what is probably the most memorable moment seen in the final itself as Hull City met Bristol City in the Wembley sunshine.

It was both clubs' first Championship play-off final with it looking like an uphill battle for Hull. They hadn’t beaten Bristol City since 1985 and had the potential of being the first Hull City side to get promoted into the top tier of English football

In a game of many Bristol chances, the one that counted was scored by the Tigers, as Fraizer Campbell stopped before the by-line and chipped the ball back to the edge of the box it could’ve been anyone on the end of it.

“I think it was written in the gods,” stated manager Phil Brown after the game. Windass was on the edge of the box and kept the volley down and his left-footed strike was perfect and left Adriano Basso’s dive pointless. The best play-off final goal we've seen sent Hull City to the Premier League for the first time in its history.

1. “DEEENNEEEEYYY!!!!” - Watford (2013)

The most famous play-off moment came in the semi-finals, and it is echoed every single time these finals come around.

Watford came into the second leg in 2013, 1-0 down against Leicester, however, Matej Vydra scored a sumptuous volley to level the tie in the first half of the second leg.

David Nugent silenced Vicarage Road minutes later with a header from a corner, but Vydra levelled the tie. He played a tidy one-two with Troy Deeney and slotted home. In the last minute, though, Anthony Knockaert to a tumble to win a penalty and all he had to do was score and Leicester were off to Wembley.

You can remember the Jonny Phillips commentary from here. Deeney sent the Hornets fans wild, sparking a pitch invasion and it may be the most memorable moment, but something for the four teams involved in this year’s play-offs to remember.


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