Sheffield Wednesday 1 Sunderland 1 (Agg 1-2): Owls League One play-off dreams shattered after late killer blow by Black Cats

HILLSBOROUGH has been a glorious venue in the history of Sunderland - and this time the hosts were on the receiving end.

Sheffield Wednesday’s home was where the Wearsiders booked Wembley cup final dates in 1973 and 1992 at the expense of Arsenal and Norwich City respectively, where Vic Halom, Billy Hughes and John Byrne etched their names into club folklore.

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Two lapses in concentration killed Sheffield Wednesday, admits Darren Moore

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At the conclusion of this latest semi-final, albeit in a different competition, they will return to the hallowed turf for another final.

Patrick Roberts celebrates after scoring his side's late equalising goal at Hillsborough, giving Sunderland a 2-1 League One plasy-off semi-final win over two legs. Picture: James Williamson/Getty Images

For the second successive time, the Owls promotion dreams were shattered on home soil after coming out on the wrong side of a tense play-off just as they were against Huddersfield Town in 2016-17.

It was another 1-1 draw from the second home leg at S6. No penalty heartache this time, but a shattering late finish all the same.

After levelling the tie 16 minutes from time, courtesy of Lee Gregory’s 17th and most important goal of the season - and fifth in successive home matches - Wednesday pushed for a winner.

KILLER BLOW: Sunderland's Patrick Roberts (second right) celebrates scoring his side's equaliser at Hillsborough - enough to give the Black Cats the aggregate victory Picture: Zac Goodwin/PA

But in a two-legged tie which resembled a chess match, Sunderland found check-mate.

Gregory’s goal had been the precursor to an impromptu light show from ecstatic Wednesdayites, but a goal in the third minute of stoppage-time from Patrick Roberts - following excellent work from the best player on the pitch in former Leeds United loanee Jack Clarke - put the hosts’ lights out.

Clarke feasted on space on the left and set up Roberts for the game-breaking moment.

It maintained Alex Neil’s record of not losing an away game as Sunderland manager. But the only prize here was Wembley.

GREAT LEVELLER: Sheffield Wednesday's Lee Gregory scores his side's first goal against Sunderland at Hillsborough. Picture: Zac Goodwin/PA

Since being appointed as Sunderland manager, Neil has not lost a game on his travels, letting it just two goals in seven matches. Home and away, his side are unbeaten since February 19.

Side by side in the league table and with virtually identical records in terms of home and away records in the regular seasons - with that closeness even extending to goals scored and conceded - the smart money was on the tie being one of fine margins.

And so it proved.

It probably will have surprised few that, given the stakes of the evening between two sides who are desperate to rid themselves of the shackles of League One, however which way it transpires, that the most of the action was tense and scrappy.

Sheffield Wednesday's George Byers attempts an overhead kick againbst Sunderland at Hillsborough. Picture: Zac Goodwin/PA

In their traditional red and white stripped jerseys, Sunderland’s game management would have drawn nods of approval from Diego Simeone, whose Atletico Madrid side play in similar colours.

By whatever means, they broke the rhythm of Wednesday and their organisation without the ball was on message. Until the final quarter when Wednesday pushed.

Their defence was largely resolute, while Luke O’Nien was never usually far away from Barry Bannan and they had two irritants further forward in Alex Pritchard and Patrick Roberts.

It was an arm-wrestle and not a particularly good watch. Protecting a narrow lead, it suited Sunderland the more.

Wednesday got down the sides on occasions in the first half. Cleverness from Bannan found Josh Windass, but Danny Batth was alert as Bailey Wright was early on to block Lee Gregory’s half volley.

An overhead kick from George Byers was spectacular but straight at Anthony Patterson, in a tie which was tantalisingly poised, but lacked sparkle.

The home hordes needed something on the resumption, while Sunderland patiently waited for their moment on the break.

The stop-start nature of play continued to irritate Wednesdayites. The worries belonged to Darren Moore, who at least had options on the bench in the shape of four attacking players.

Moore’s concerns then almost intensified.

A weaving run from Clarke ended in the ball finding O’Nien, whose low shot was fortunately straight at Bailey Peacock-Farrell before a goalbound shot from Roberts was blocked in the nick of time by Jordan Storey.

For Wednesday, that big chance obdurately refused to come. Storey had a half chance which flew over, but there was nothing for the Kop to get their teeth into until a cameo of excitement almost conjured a breakthrough midway through the half.

A quality cross from Windass almost found Gregory from close in, but Lynden Gooch cleared before Sam Hutchinson’s header was grasped by Patterson.

The decidedly groggy defender received attention in its aftermath after following an aerial challenge. It meant Moore’s first change was enforced with Liam Palmer coming on, but he elected to also throw on a wildcard in Nathaniel Mendez-Laing entering the fray for Hunt in an attacking move.

Moore and thirty thousand home supporters were mercifully soon on their feet, with Gregory providing a hugely relieving moment by sliding home from Johnson’s centre after Sunderland’s defensive mask finally slipped.

But the fatal development would come in front of the West Stand against the run of play and ten minutes of stoppage time could not rescue Wednesday. A cruel game.

Sheffield Wednesday: Peacock-Farrell; Storey, Dean, Hutchinson (Palmer 70); Hunt (Mendez-Laing 71), Luongo, Byers (Berahino 90+5), Bannan, Johnson; Windass (Paterson 78), Gregory. Substitutes unused: Wildsmith, Dunkley, Kamberi.

Sunderland: Patterson; Wright, Batth, Cirkin; Gooch, Evans, O’Nien, Clarke (Doyle 90+8); Roberts (Broadhead 90+7), Pritchard (Matete 90+7); Stewart. Substitutes unused: Hoffman, Embleton, Neil, Hume.

Referee: J Linington (Isle of Wight).