Swansea City's play-off classics
For the seventh time since their introduction in 1986, Swansea City are looking forward to a play-off campaign having secured their berth in the Championship semi-finals in a dramatic finale to the regular season on Wednesday night.
The Swans have experienced their own mixture of joy and heartache in a format that has provided so many memorable moments over the last 34 years.
Here, we look back at some of the Swans finest play-off moments, including a meeting with this season’s semi-final opponents Brentford.
Torquay United 3 Swansea City 3
Division Four play-off final, second leg – May 25, 1988
Swansea had claimed a play-off place in the second year of the new post-season competition under Terry Yorath.
They had beaten Rotherham in the semi-finals, and headed to Plainmoor with a 2-1 advantage from the first leg of the then two-legged final against Torquay.
The visitors looked to be cruising when a Paul Raynor goal was quickly followed by a Sean McCarthy penalty inside half an hour.
But Torquay, inspired by soon-to-be Manchester United winger Lee Sharpe, hit back through a brace from Scottish defender Jim McNichol.
Alan Davies restored Swansea’s advantage on the night right on half-time, only for David Caldwell to hit back and set up a nervy finale.
But Swansea held on to get the job done.
Swansea City 3 Chester City 0
Division Three play-off semi-final, second leg - May 14, 1997
The Swans surged into the Division Three play-off final with an emphatic win over Chester at The Vetch.
After a goalless first leg, Jan Molby’s side were well-placed and they took full advantage with a clinical display in front of goal.
Chester’s cause was not helped by a red card for Chris Priest, but the Swans always looked in control.
Dai Thomas put them ahead six minutes before the break, with Steve Torpey doubling their advantage before the half-time whistle sounded.
Carl Heggs added a third just past the hour mark to seal the win.
However, there would be Wembley disappointment for Molby’s men as a late John Frain free-kick condemned them to defeat to Northampton.
Brentford 0 Swansea City 2
League One play-off semi-final, second leg – May 14, 2006
Leon Knight scored twice as the Swans secured their place in the League One play-off final thanks to victory at Griffin Park.
Jackett’s men looked to be in a bit of trouble after drawing the first leg of the semi-final 1-1 at the Liberty.
But Knight put the Swans ahead in the tie inside 10 minutes in West London, as he lifted the ball over Brentford goalkeeper Stuart Nelson from 20 yards out.
The striker quickly added his second goal, racing onto a pass from Leon Britton before powering home to make it 2-0.
Rory Fallon had a great chance to make it 3-0 but his headed effort flew off target.
Goalkeeper Willy Gueret was on top form for the visitors, making a series of spectacular saves to ensure a second trip to the Millennium Stadium following the Swans’ Football League Trophy success.
Swansea City 3 Nottingham Forest 1
Championship play-off semi-final, second leg – May 16, 2011
This contest ranks right up there with the most thrilling encounters played out at the Liberty Stadium.
The stakes could not have been higher when the Swans and Forest met in May of 2011.
Four days earlier, the first leg had ended 0-0 at the City Ground despite Neil Taylor’s second-minute red card.
After a supreme effort in that game, the Swans returned home and finished the job on a pulsating night in SA1.
Leon Britton put the hosts ahead with a stunning finish on 28 minutes – it proved to be his last goal in professional football – before Stephen Dobbie quickly doubled the advantage.
But Forest fought back in the second half, and put the cat amongst the pigeons when Robert Earnshaw made it 2-1 on 80 minutes.
Anxiety reigned at the Liberty as Forest won a stoppage-time corner, with keeper Lee Camp coming forward as the visitors attempted to save their season.
But when the set-piece was cleared to Darren Pratley, he raced forward before steering the ball into the empty Forest net from just inside his own half.
Brendan Rodgers memorably raced down the touchline in celebration as the Jack Army erupted.
Swansea City 4 Reading 2
Championship play-off final – May 30, 2011
Swansea City sealed promotion to the top-flight for only the second time in their history with a thrilling victory over Reading.
Scott Sinclair scored a hat-trick at Wembley as the Swans ended their 28-year wait for a return to the top tier of English football.
The Swans took the lead in the 21st minute thanks to Sinclair’s penalty after Nathan Dyer had been tripped in the box.
It was 2-0 just a minute later, with Sinclair netting at the far post after Adam Federici parried Stephen Dobbie’s cross.
Dobbie got in on the act with a fine finish five minutes before the break, but the contest was far from over.
Joe Allen headed into his own net early in the second half to give Reading hope, then Matt Mills’ powerful header made it 3-2 on 57 minutes.
The Swans were wobbling, and it needed a brilliant Garry Monk block to deny Noel Hunt an equaliser.
But with 10 minutes remaining, Andy Griffin fouled Fabio Borini in the box and Sinclair completed his hat-trick from the spot to secure the Swans’ place in the Premier League.