Championship Finale: Sheffield Wednesday And Crystal Palace Fight For Survival

198

The Championship title has already been decided and gifted to Newcastle United whilst West Brom have been confirmed as the second directly promoted team. There was still a lot at stake though with the playoff positions to fight for and, on this final day, two clubs who were fighting for their lives to stay in the division.

Peterborough and Plymouth have already been relegated but the final relegation position was still up for grabs and the next two teams in the firing line were Sheffield Wednesday and Crystal Palace, who faced off against each other in a decisive finale.

Palace only needed 1 point to avoid relegation and were trading at 12/5 for that draw, whilst Sheffield Wednesday, who needed all three points, were 11/8 favorites for the win.

There was a huge buzz around Hillsborough as this game kicked off and opened up into a very attacking affair early on, with both sides pushing for the first goal. Wednesday soon began to outplay Palace and rattled off a few meagre shots on target without really threatening the ‘keeper, but it was Palace who opened the scoring. With twenty-five minutes played Alan Lee leaped up to meet an Ambrose corner, and directed his header past the Goalkeeper to give the away side the lead.

Beevers missed a great chance to equalize for Wednesday who were then denied a penalty as they pushed Palace back and looked to square things up. The home team got what they wanted just before halftime with Leon Clark grabbing the goal. Danny Butterfield held the ball at the back for Palace but Clark pestered him, robbed him of the ball, drove towards goal and then hit a sweet curling shot past the ‘keeper.

The second half began as the first left off. A second Sheffield player took a bad knock and was forced off to bandage a bleeding head as the tensions increased and the contact thickened. Sheffield dominated the early stages and really should have taken the lead before the hour mark when Varney worked his way through two defenders before slamming a half-volley straight against the strong Spironi when one-on-on.

The game took a dramatic turn a few minutes later when Palace popped up to score against the run of play again. Scannell worked his way down the Sheffield byline and cut back a pass for Darren Ambrose who drilled his shot into the net to put Palace back into the lead and leave Sheffield needing two goals.

Soares was denied a goalscoring chance thanks to a last ditch tackle and Johnson headed over from twelve yards as Sheffield Wednesday refused to give up hope and pushed for a goal. With every player inside the Palace half, fighting for their Championship survival, Wednesday nicked a goal to equalize with just three minutes to play. Darren Pearce nipped around the back post to latch onto a header and poke the ball in from three yards, squaring things up and jolting the fans who began to rock the stadium in anticipation of a much needed winner.

That winner never came though, despite some nail biting and heart stopping play in stoppage time. The game ended 2-2 which wasn’t enough for Sheffield Wednesday to stay up but was all Palace needed and they will be the ones still playing Championship football whilst Sheffield Wednesday will be relegated to League 1.

Elsewhere in the Championship, on the final day of the season, Newcastle passed the 100 point mark at the top of the league thanks to a 1-0 away to QPR, whilst Blackpool and Swansea both settled for home draws which means that Blackpool will take the final Playoff position.