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Top 10 Football League Play-Off Finals

20 May 2014

Following the weekend's Sky Bet Football League Play-Off Finals at Wembley Stadium, we've delved into the archives to pick out 10 previous thrillers.

So, brace yourself; here's our Top 10 Football League Play-Off Finals...

Charlton Athletic 4-4 Sunderland (Charlton won 7-6 on penalties) - Division One (1998)

We think this is probably the best starting point as it's arguably the most unforgettable Play-Off Final.

Charlton Athletic striker Clive Mendonca got the goalscoring frenzy under way with a smart turn and finish midway through the first half before Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips netted to flip the game on its head in Sunderland's favour.

Mendonca popped up again in the 71st minute, making it 2-2, only for Quinn to score again for 3-2 shortly after.

Richard Rufus' towering header for the Addicks five minutes before full-time levelled the match to take it to extra-time.

Nicky Sumerbee made it 4-3 in the 99th minute but Mendonca completed his hat-trick soon after, meaning penalties were needed.

After seven successful spot-kicks from Charlton, Micky Gray stepped up to take Sunderland's seventh.

Gray's effort was saved by Charlton stopper Sasa Ilic, taking Alan Curbishley's men into the Premier League.

Bournemouth 5-2 Lincoln City - Division Three (2003)

Carl Fletcher was Bournemouth's hero in this 2003 Third Division Play-Off Final at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, which is the highest-scoring fourth tier Play-Off Final ever.

It was Steve Fletcher who opened the scoring in the 29th minute only for Ben Futcher to level for the Imps. Carl Fletcher then scored his first before Stephen Purches and Garreth O'Connor netted to give Bournemouth a 4-1 lead.

Mark Bailey made it 4-2 in the 75th minute but Carl Fletcher popped up again to seal promotion for the Cherries.

Sheffield Wednesday 4-2 Hartlepool United - League 1 (2005)

Hartlepool had a 2-1 lead in this Final at the Millennium Stadium heading into the final 10 minutes but Pools defender Chris Westwood received a red card for bringing down Sheffield Wednesday sub Drew Talbot in the box.

Steve MacLean drilled in the resultant penalty for his 20th goal of the season and the Owls went on to win 4-2 in extra-time, securing promotion to the Championship.

Swindon Town 4-3 Leicester City - Division One (1993)

This 1993 epic was firmly in the hands of Swindon as they led 3-0 with 53 minutes on the clock thanks to goals from Glenn Hoddle, Craig Maskell and Shaun Taylor.

Leicester came surging back though and dramatically levelled the match with three goals in 12 minutes; Julian Joachim, Steve Walsh and Steve Thompson on target.

As the game approached the closing stages, Foxes stopper Kevin Poole brought down Steve White in the area and Paul Bodin converted the spot-kick to send the Robins into the Premier League.

Manchester City 2-2 Gillingham (Man City won 3-1 on penalties) - Division Two (1999)

Gillingham looked set for the First Division on 30th May 1999 when Carl Asaba and Robert Taylor netted past the 80-minute mark to put the Gills 2-0 up.

Manchester City weren't dead and buried though and injury-time goals from Kevin Horlock and Paul Dickov took the game to extra-time.

With no goals coming in the additional 30 minutes, penalties were required and, with Gillingham only scoring one of their first four, City were promoted after Richard Edghill converted from the spot to make it 3-1 in the shoot-out.

Gillingham 3-2 Wigan Athletic - Division Two (2000)

Gillingham were back at Wembley a year later for another Division Two Play-Off Final but this time they were on the right end of a thriller.

The score was 1-1 after 90 minutes and, despite the Latics going in front in extra-time courtesy of a Stuart Barlow penalty, Steve Butler and Andy Thomson both scored headers for the Gills to seal their promotion.

Bolton 4-3 Reading - Division One (1995)

Reading raced into a two-goal lead within the opening 12 minutes in this 1995 Wembley Final but were pegged back late on in the second half after goals from Owen Coyle and Fabian de Freitas, taking the game to extra-time.

Mixu Paatelainen then completed the Wanderers turnaround before de Freitas got another in the 118th minute to make it 4-2. Jimmy Quinn pulled one back for the Royals but Bolton held on.

Blackpool 3-2 Cardiff City - Championship (2010)

In front of over 82,000 at Wembley Stadium, Blackpool and Cardiff City produced one of the most exciting opening 45 minutes in Football League Play-Off history.

Michael Chopra started the scoring in the ninth minute for the Bluebirds before Charlie Adam levelled shortly after.

Joe Ledley restored Cardiff's advantage but back came the Tangerines. Goals from Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Brett Ormerod made it 3-2 at the break and that's how it stayed throughout the second half to send Blackpool into the top flight for the first time since the early 1970s.

Scunthorpe United 3-2 Millwall - League 1 (2009)

Martyn Woolford was the hero for Scunthorpe United in this Play-Off Final after he struck a late winner for the Iron to send them into the Championship.

Scunthorpe went ahead in the sixth minute through Matt Sparrow before a Gary Alexander brace - including a stunner that was voted as the best Play-Off goal ever on football-league.co.uk - put the Lions ahead.

Sparrow levelled the match in the 70th minute then, with only four minutes left on the clock, Woolford produced the goods to fire the Iron to promotion.

Wycombe Wanderers 4-2 Preston North End - Division Three (1994)

Wycombe Wanderers twice came from behind at Wembley against Preston in 1994's Division Three Play-Off Final to level the score at 2-2 just after the half-time break.

Midfielder Dave Carroll then came up with a second-half brace to give the Chairboys a 4-2 victory and send them into Division Two.


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