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Friday 30 September 2016

Owls reach Wembley as Seagulls flap again

Brighton boss Chris Hughton Photo: PA
Brighton boss Chris Hughton Photo: PA

Ross Wallace stunned Brighton for the second time in four days as Sheffield Wednesday moved another step closer to the Premier League.

The Scottish winger had opened the scoring from 30 yards in the first leg of the Championship play-off semi-final on Friday, and struck from a similar distance at the Amex Stadium to fire Wednesday to Wembley.

Yet there was more than a hint of fortune about this strike after Wallace launched a cross towards the Brighton net and watched it loop over everybody and bounce into the net. Nevertheless, it could prove a priceless goal - or one at least worth a sizeable chunk of the estimated £170million promotion brings this year - as it secured Wednesday a 1-1 draw on the night and a 3-1 aggregate victory.

They will move onto the final a week on Saturday, for what is likely to be an all-Yorkshire affair with Hull holding a 3-0 advantage over Derby in the other semi-final. Meanwhile Brighton, who finished 15 points ahead of the Owls, were left to dwell on a third play-off failure in four seasons.

Yet Chris Hughton's side threatened to wipe out Wednesday's lead in the space of a frantic opening half hour. They led on the night through Lewis Dunk and saw a host of other chances come and go.

However, just as a packed and raucous Amex braced itself for a famous comeback, Wallace rather spoiled the mood.

Brighton were convinced Dunk was fouled as he attempted to head the 28th-minute cross clear, but with Seagulls goalkeeper David Stockdale rooted to the spot the ball nestled into the far corner.

After the break Brighton continued to pour forward but Wednesday held firm.

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