2003 Football League First Division play-off Final
The 2003 Football League First Division play-off Final was a football match played at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on 26 May 2003 at the end of the 2002–03 season. The match determined the third and final team to gain promotion from the First Division to the Premier League, and was contested by Sheffield United and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
|Date||26 May 2003|
|Venue||Millennium Stadium, Cardiff|
|Man of the Match||Matt Murray (Wolverhampton Wanderers)|
|Referee||Steve Bennett (Kent)|
14 °C (57 °F)
Wolves won the match 3–0, with three first-half goals, taking them back to the top flight for the first time in nineteen years.
Route to the finalEdit
|Pos=Position P=Games played W=Wins D=Draws
L=Losses F=Goals for A=Goals against Pts=Points
Sheffield United finished the season in third place in the First Division, twelve points behind the runaway top two Portsmouth and Leicester City. They had enjoyed a successful season, being positioned in the play-off zone almost throughout and reaching the semi-finals of both the FA Cup and League Cup.
Wolves had had an inconsistent first half to the campaign after the disappointment of their late slump in form during the previous season which had lost them promotion to local rivals West Bromwich Albion. A stronger run of form in the closing months however, earned them a second successive place in the play-offs with a fifth-place finish, four points behind their opponents.
Both clubs had confirmed their play-off place with games to spare, before meeting in their penultimate league match – a 3–3 draw at Bramall Lane. In their first meeting of the season Sheffield United had won 3–1 at Molineux.
Wolves meanwhile faced Reading, winning the first leg 2–1 after coming from behind and edging a narrow 1–0 success in the away leg to progress 3–1 on aggregate. This marked their first play-off semi-final success at this level in four attempts.
Mark Kennedy opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a low drive into the corner of the net from 20 yards. Their lead was doubled sixteen minutes later when Nathan Blake headed in from close range at a corner. A three-goal lead was established moments shortly before the half time interval when Kenny Miller converted after a quick counterattack.
Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock was sent to the stands at half time after arguing with referee Steve Bennett. He saw his side offered a route back into the contest when they were awarded a penalty in the 48th minute after Wolves' defender Paul Butler was adjudged to have handled. However, Michael Brown's spotkick was pushed away by goalkeeper Matt Murray.
|Sheffield United||0–3||Wolverhampton Wanderers|
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