Wednesday 2-1 Carlisle United
21/4/12 - 3pm
The twists and turns in the chase for automatic promotion from League One continued at Hillsborough on Saturday as Wednesday grabbed a dramatic late win against play-off chasing Carlisle United.
Hillsborough was bouncing at the final whistle after Michael Antonio netted a winner deep into the six minutes of added time to move Wednesday to within a point of second-placed Sheffield United, who lost 1-0 at MK Dons, with two games to go.
It was a largely frustrating afternoon for Wednesday in front of goal, something that told with the wild celebrations following Antonio's last-gasp winner.
Chris Lines had fired Dave Jones's men ahead in a first-half dominated by the hosts. But the Cumbrians improved after the break and James Berrett got them on level terms with eight minutes to go. It looked to be enough to secure a point for the visitors before Antonio popped up with the added-time winner.
Jones stuck with the same starting eleven that drew at Colchester United last time out, despite a return to fitness of Rob Jones and Ryan Lowe.
And Wednesday started brightly, having the attacking momentum without really hitting top gear in front of goal. Jermaine Johnson and Antonio looked lively on the wings, proving the Owls' biggest threat going forward as United had to fend off cross after cross into their box.
Mark Beevers, filling in at left-back, had the first real sight of goal for the hosts but his header flew just over the bar and landed on the roof of the net.
The Owls continue to look threatening with every wide raid going forward and it looked like just a matter of time before the breakthrough came. Adam Collin was certainly the busier of the two goalkeepers and he did brilliantly to tip a Danny Batth header over the bar.
Wednesday's wing wizards continued to be the biggest threat and it was the Jamaican, Johnson, who carved out the opening goal midway through the first half, He whizzed beyond his marker before unleashing a powerful shot that Collin could only parry straight into the path of Lines, who stabbed the ball home from point-blank range to give Wednesday the lead.
The Cumbrians did have their moments going forward but they failed to find the killer final ball, finding themselves in a few good opportunities but failing to capitalise.
And the Owls should have been further ahead than their one-goal cushion at the interval.
The best chance to double their tally came when Johnson's pace took him clear of his marker and left him one-on-one with Collin, with Gary Madine well-positioned for an easy goal. Instead, Johnson struck his shot straight at Collin, leaving Madine frustrated and Wednesday still only the one goal to the good.
Madine, Beevers and Nile Ranger also had half chances but Carlisle could count themselves fortunate to trail by just the one goal at half-time.
Half-Time: Wednesday 1-0 Carlisle
Wednesday needed to continue their impressive attacking play in the second half but find their finishing touch to put the game beyond their visitors.
The Owls certainly started brightly and came close again five minutes after the restart. Lines' dangerous ball found Antonio but the on-loan Reading man saw his header cleared off the line by Lubomir Michalik.
Ranger then had a low shot saved by Collin after his good work down the left saw him rob the ball from former Owl Frank Simek before cutting inside and getting his shot away.
Wednesday were in control but seemingly growing a bit frustrated at their failure to add a second goal. At 1-0, United were still very much in the contest and they sensed that, upping their gear and capitalising on some sloppy Wednesday play.
Johnson was guilty of some of that guilty play and he was brought off by Jones, being replaced by Keith Treacy.
Treacy was involved in one of the talking points of the match on the hour mark. His ball put Antonio in the clear and he was hauled down by Danny Livesey, the last man. It looked like a foul, and a red card should come as a result, but the referee waved away Wednesday claims. Antonio injured his shoulder in the challenge and had to play on with his painful injury for the rest of the match.
Former Carlisle man Madine was trying hard to get on the scoresheet but was off-target all afternoon, firing over the bar as Wednesday continued to push for a second.
Carlisle were sniffing a leveller and that came with eight minutes to go to leave S6 stunned. The Owls conceded a free-kick in a dangerous position but the wall did its job to block the strike, only for Berrett to collect the loose ball and drill a low shot into the bottom corner of Bywater's goal.
It looked to be enough to give the Cumbrians a share of the spoils but the Owls, who pushed forward desperately late on, were boosted with the decision to award six minutes of added time.
It lifted the Hillsborough faithful and, to Wednesday's credit, they refused to give in. It resulted in Antonio's stunning winner. He cut inside from the left and unleashed a curling shot that flew beyond Collin and into the back of the net to send Hillsborough wild.
Full-Time: Wednesday 2-1 Carlisle