RETRO: Mark Bright sends Owls off to Wembley as Blackburn are swept aside
Sheffield Wednesday clinched a Coca Cola Cup final appearance against Arsenal in March 1993.
The Owls beat Blackburn Rovers 2-1 at Hillsborough in the semi-final second leg to make it 6-3 on average.
Wednesday kicked off at Hillsborough with the comfort of a 4-2 lead from the first leg at Ewood Park back in February.
There was some tension in the early exchanges and although Carlton Palmer and Viv Anderson were in command at the back the 30,048 crowd were on edge when the visitors took a 34th minute lead.
A cross was knocked down but not cleared by John Sheridan and Patrick Anderson put it away through a crowd of players with the help of a deflection.
It was very close to 2-0 just before half time when an extraordinary ball by Roland Nilsson hit the Owls post: “I couldn’t believe my eyes,” said manager Trevor Francis later. “I think Roland was trying to pick out Phil King - or me in the stand.”
The half-time break must have calmed their nerves - Sheidan testing the keeper with a free kick and Nilsson cleverly steering a dangerous cross away from goal.
But Francis decided a change was needed, taking off King, moving Paul Warhurst to left back and bringing on sub David Hirst in the 55th minute.
The striker almost scored with his first touch, a header following a Chris Waddle cross, and then forced a corner with another effort.
And it was the Waddle-Hirst combination which levelled scores on the day in the 68th minute.
Danny Wilson found Waddle on the right and he tricked the full back before crossing to the far post where Hirst did the rest.
And five minutes later it was 2-1 on the day and 6-3 on aggregate with the Owls all set for Wembley after a goal by Mark Bright.
Only a minute earlier he had hit the inside of the post but this time, set up by Hirst, he scored at the second attempt, potting the rebound after his first measured shot was palmed out by the keeper.
Wednesday completed the game without any further problems, and might have scored two or three more.
Francis took satisfaction from the stylish way the Owls played: “It’s doubly satisfying when you do it the way that you want it to be done. The way we played in the second half - the movement, the passing, the way we created; it was very enjoyable.”
And the manager acknowledged a debt to Ron Atkinson, who two years previously had guided the club to victory in the League Cup final over Manchester United.
“I inherited some of his players, and continued to play the way he likes to play and the supporters want to see.”
Francis revealed he had considered not giving a place on the bench to Hirst, whose goal had turned the game.
“He had been out for two months and was very short of match fitness. I didn’t consider starting him at all - itwas him or Nigel Jemson for the last subs place.
“David will get the headlines, but Paul Warhurst did a great job. It’s not easy to go from up front to left back in the middle of a match, but he did it well.”
Owls writer Paul Thompson named Carlton Palmer his star player, for ‘a flawless performance.’
- Details from the first leg - Ewood Park, Feb 10: Blackburn 2 Wednesday 4 - Owls scorers: Harkes (14mins), Sheridan (21), Warhurst (26 and 30). Attendance: 17, 283.