Sheffield Wednesday’s dream of reaching the play-off final for a second consecutive year ended after a 4-3 penalty shoot-out defeat to Huddersfield Town.
Hillsborough rocked from the get go as both sets of fans were in full voice in what proved to be a close and entertaining encounter.
The Owls were dealt a blow early on when they lost Ross Wallace to injury, but they began to show their ambition for victory once they fell into their rhythm.
The first clear chance of the game fell to Wednesday after Wallace’s replacement, Adam Reach, forced an excellent save from Terriers keeper Danny Ward.
And the away side replied when Izzy Brown clipped the ball just wide of the near post from close range. Wednesday did though have the last opportunity to take the lead before half time after Barry Bannan played a ball over the top to Fletcher, but the 30-year-old pulled his pass just behind Fernando Forestieri who otherwise would have had an easy finish from inside the box.
The second half provided better quality football, and Wednesday scored within five minutes, after Fletcher made a great leap to connect with Bannan’s cross, putting the Owls in front and sending Hillsborough into euphoria.
Wednesday then backed off to try and defend their lead, but just 20 minutes later Huddersfield found an equaliser and a foothold in the game, Nahki Wells the first player on the end of a cross to slide the ball home. Just before regular time was up the visitors incredibly nearly found a winner, but Keiren Westwood pushed Wells strike to safety at the death.
With nothing to separate the sides after 90 minutes extra time called, but the only clear chances came in the second half as Wells hit the side netting on the rebound from substitute Tareiq Holmes-Dennise’s effort. Jordan Rhodes could have sealed the win to send Wednesday to Wembley, but his header from close range just went wide.
The only thing left to decide the game were penalties and the Owls were immediately on the back foot after Sam Hutchinson saw his saved by Ward. Westwood managed to give Wednesday a lifeline after keeping out Jack Payne, but Ward was Huddersfield’s hero of the hour, denying Forestieri and giving the visiting side victory and his team a trip to Wembley against Reading on May 29.