Ipswich Town’s greatest games: Blues beat Barnsley in 2000 play-off final

Ipswich Town players, Richard Naylor, Tony Mowbray, Martijn Reuser and Marcus Stewart celebrate on t

Ipswich Town players, Richard Naylor, Tony Mowbray, Martijn Reuser and Marcus Stewart celebrate on the pitch. Picture: JAMIE NIBLOCK.

Every Saturday during the football close season, we will feature one of Ipswich Town’s 10 greatest games. We kick off with the unforgettable play-off final in 2000.

Ipswich Town's promotion-winning team. Picture: JAMIE NIBLOCK.

Ipswich Town's promotion-winning team. Picture: JAMIE NIBLOCK.

After so many play-off heartbreaks, surely Town’s time had come and we would beat Barnsley to get back into the Premier League?

David Johnson attempting a header at the Barnsley goal early on against Barnsley 'keeper Kevin Mille

David Johnson attempting a header at the Barnsley goal early on against Barnsley 'keeper Kevin Miller - Credit: Archant

Wembley Stadium in 2000 as Ipswich Town take on Barnsley in the play-off final

Wembley Stadium in 2000 as Ipswich Town take on Barnsley in the play-off final - Credit: Archant

It didn’t start well. In the sixth minute, Craig Hignett’s long-range shot cannoned down off the bar, hit Town keeper Richard Wright, and went into the net.

A sea of blue as Ipswich fans turn up in their numbers to see the play-off final in 2000

A sea of blue as Ipswich fans turn up in their numbers to see the play-off final in 2000 - Credit: Archant

Martijn Reuser seals the win for the Blues

Martijn Reuser seals the win for the Blues - Credit: Archant

Just before the half-hour, Jim Magilton swung a ball into the area, and Tony Mowbray powered home a header to equalise.

George Burley lifting the play-off trophy in 2000 as Ipswich secure promotion

George Burley lifting the play-off trophy in 2000 as Ipswich secure promotion - Credit: Archant

Approaching half-time, the turning point. Richard Wright hauled down Hignett, but produced a wonder save to keep out Darren Barnard’s spot-kick. Level at the interval.


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Early in the second half, Town were ahead thanks to Naylor’s deft finish, and then, a few minutes later, Marcus Stewart headed home.

In the 78th minute, Hignett slammed home a penalty to pull a goal back, and just before the end of normal time, Wright made another fantastic save, this time to keep out Hristov’s header.

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Then came THE moment. Naylor put super-sub Martijn Reuser through and the Dutchman smashed the ball in.

Town were back in the big-time.

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