IT was a season when Sheffield Wednesday and Arsenal grew sick of the sight of each other.
Twenty-four years ago today, the final act was played out between the Owls and the Gunners during that famous 1992-93 campaign – and there was a shattering feeling of deflation for Wednesdayites, just as there has been this week.
Wednesday’s FA Cup final replay with Arsenal saw them cruelly downed in the very last minute of extra-time by a towering header from Andy Linighan, a strapping Hartlepool lad whose brother Brian later briefly played for the Owls.
Trevor Francis’s side were just 60 seconds away from securing a penalty shoot-out, a first ever in the history of the world’s most prestigious knock-out cup competition.
But instead, it was Arsenal who broke new ground in becoming the first team to win the FA and League Cup in the same season, edging past the Yorkshire outfit in a 2-1 victory.
George Graham’s men prevailed by that same scoreline in the League Cup showpiece on April 18, 1993, and provided a repeat dosage in the fifth and final meeting between the clubs that season on May 20.
All told, they made four visits to the famous old stadium, with all Steel City FA Cup semi-final with Sheffield United remembered particularly fondly in the blue-and-white half of Sheffield.Leon Wobschall
The familiarity between the two famous clubs cast minds back to memories of the winter of 1978-79 when Wednesday and Arsenal played out a marathon FA Cup third-round tie which went to five games.
That 1992-93 epic looked nailed-on for penalties – a nerve-shredding denouement, but something which Wednesday merited – only for Arsenal to break their hearts with Linighan’s thundering header from Paul Merson’s corner beating the defences of Chris Woods.
That the Owls were to take nothing away from an eye-catching campaign in which they had earned many plaudits with their quality of football was somewhat cruel.
Wednesdayites were entitled to label Wembley as Hillsborough South that year.
All told, they made four visits to the famous old stadium, with the all Steel City FA Cup semi-final with Sheffield United remembered particularly fondly in the blue-and-white half of Sheffield.
Five days after striding out against Arsenal in the cup final, the Owls returned for an encore and a tense replay ensued between opponents who were facing each other for the third time in a fortnight – Wednesday triumphed 1-0 in an end-of-season league fixture at Hillsborough on May 6, 1993.
A slow-burner of a replay ensued on a Thursday night, played out in front of a crowd of 62,000, with the kick-off put back by half an hour, mainly due to an accident on the M1 which delayed the arrival of thousands of Owls supporters.
Wednesday moved Carlton Palmer into the heart of the back four in place of Viv Anderson, who failed a late fitness test with a bruised knee, with Danny Wilson taking Palmer’s place in midfield.
The first chance fell to Merson, whose shot was weak before eventual matchwinner Linighan spurned another good opportunity for the Gunners, heading off target following Lee Dixon’s inviting cross.
The pressure eventually told when Alan Smith set up Arsenal’s talismanic striker Ian Wright forging the breakthrough after 33 minutes with his 30th goal of an outstanding season, impressively clipping the ball past Woods after wrong-footing Palmer and Paul Warhurst.
After a quiet first half, the onus was on Wednesday to up their game, which they did on 68 minutes when Arsenal failed to cut out John Harkes’s cross from the right and Chris Waddle, whose shot bounced off Dixon and past David Seaman’s left-hand post.
Mark Bright fluffed a golden chance to fire the Owls ahead soon after, but extra time ensued with Smith and Bright going tantalisingly close before Linighan’s dramatic intervention.