Barnsley FC stage a staggering Great Escape after 2-1 win at Brentford
WHAT is it about South Yorkshire sides coming to Griffin Park on the last day of a season and wreaking havoc with the hosts' best laid plans.
First Doncaster Rovers on that madcap Spring Saturday in April 2013 following 17 seconds of madness and now another scarcely believable, staggering last-gasp denouement to miraculously save Barnsley's skins and trash Brentford's automatic promotion hopes.
A joyous cry of 'We Are Staying Up' from these Barnsley boys who have turned to men under Gerhard Struber echoed around a deserted Griffin Park at the final whistle and Barnsley, magnificently and deservedly, should be playing Championship football next season following one of the greatest 'Great Escapes' of all time.
There were no cries of 'Yorkshire, Yorkshire' as there were when Barnsley and Huddersfield played out a 2-2 draw in May 2013 in that Survival Saturday encounter, but this was another beguiling story.
The only thing standing in the way is if Wigan Athletic successfully appeal against their 12-point deduction for entering administration. But as it stands, Barnsley are safe. Surely they are..
Two Reds players picked the best possible time to register their first goals for the club. It was simply exquisite.
Hero status was preserved for Clarke Oduor, who turned the ball home in the first minute from stoppage time following a cross from birthday boy Patrick Schmidt, who followed up his huge contribution on Sunday with another key moment in his Reds career.
It is a triumph for a young and emerging set of players, but also Struber, whose feats in rescuing a club who won just one of their first 16 matches and were nine points adrift in February is up there with the best in the Championship behind Marcelo Bielsa.
It looked like despair after a fine curling 73rd-minute strike from Josh Da Silva cancelled out Callum Styles' opener ahead of the break. But there was one more sensational twist as Barnsley followed up victories at Millwall, Fulham and QPR with the most important of the lot in the capital.
Joy for one camp at the end and despair for Brentford, who must go again in the play-offs.
The sadness beforehand was the fact that generations of Brentford supporters could not say a personal goodbye to the club's home of 116 years, but there was little time for sentiment for those in red and white striped jerseys on the pitch.
History beckoned of a different sort for the Bees where they to prevail and take their points haul at Griffin Park this season to the half-century mark and their West London neighbours QPR do them an almighty favour at West Brom - with the thought of playing Premier League football at their new Lionel Road Stadium in 2020-21 being a delicious prospect.
It was that sort of evening where some traditional rivalries were thrown out of the window, with Barnsley keeping an eye on events at Elland Road where Leeds were hosting the Reds' relegation rivals Charlton and the early portents from elsewhere were favourable.
The sight of the visitors settling with composure at Griffin Park and making life uncomfortable for the hosts and showing energy and good selection in their press, allied to some nice pockets of possession and adept movement, was the more important development on a night when Barnsley had to look after themselves ultimately.
Barnsley carried on from where they left off in showing the poise that they displayed against Nottingham Forest and Leeds United, again making a mockery of the fact that they reside in the relegation zone to the watching viewers on TV.
On this occasion, their aplomb yielded a breakthrough against nervy hosts through a sweetly-struck low drive from Styles, who crowned his recent renaissance with a lovely finish following Conor Chaplin's cross.
His brilliant tackle late on in the game at Forest paved the way for the Reds' dramatic last strike three days earlier and his contribution in the season's finale was on a different level.
Once again, they was no disputing the merit of Barnsley's precious gain and it could have been more, with ex-Reds defender Ethan Pinnock very fortunate to not be penalised for a handball with visiting players incensed with the non-award.
Luke Thomas stung the palms of David Raya in a half Barnsley controlled, while being indebted to two big saves from Jack Walton.
Impressive since the resumption, Walton produced a strong near-post to block Said Benrahma's stinging drive and then truly excelled himself to somehow turn Bryan Mbenumo's point-blank effort onto the post in miraculous fashion ahead of the break.
Big moments, but it was Barnsley who put in the big half and game.
Their dominance continued on the restart with Pinnock making a key challenge to deny Brown before being fortunate not to concede another spot-kick after bundling over Ritzmaier.
Da Silva's strike cruelly levelled it up, but cue Oduor.
Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Pinnock (Fosu 70), Henry (Jensen 60); Marcondes (Canos 70), Norgaard, Da Silva; Mbeuno (Baptiste 86), Watkins, Benhrama. Substitutes unused: Daniels, Valencia, Dervisoglu, Jeanvier, Roersley.
Barnsley: Walton; Sollbauer, Andersen; J Williams; Ludewig (Schmidt 89), Mowatt, Ritzmaier (Oduor 86), Styles; Thomas (Simoes 56); Brown, Chaplin (Woodrow 87). Substitutes unused: Collins, B Williams, Bahre, Halme, Wolfe.
Referee: R Jones (Merseyside).