2002 Football League Second Division play-off Final
|Date||11 May 2002|
|Venue||Millennium Stadium, Cardiff|
The 2002 Football League Second Division play-off Final was a football match played at Millennium Stadium on 11 May 2002, at the end of the 2001–02 season. It was the 16th play-off final in all at the third level of English football. The match determined the third and final team to gain promotion from the Second Division to the First Division, and was contested by Brentford, who had finished third during the league season, and Stoke City, who had finished fifth. Stoke won the encounter 2–0 and thus gained promotion thanks to goals from Deon Burton and an own goal from Ben Burgess.
Route to the final
Brentford under the guidance of Steve Coppell finished 3rd in the Second Division just one point away from 2nd place Reading whom they played on the final day of the season. The "Bees" took the lead through Martin Rowlands just after half time and it looked as if it would be enough to see them promoted by a late strike from Jamie Cureton ended a dramatic promotion race. Stoke City went into the 2001–02 season looking to again automatic promotion after two failed attempts to win the play-offs losing to Gillingham and Walsall. Stoke had a poor run of form at the turn of the year and in the end had to settle for 5th position.
Brentford were paired against Huddersfield Town and after a 0–0 draw away Brentford won 2–1 at Griffin Park. Stoke played Cardiff City and lost the first leg 2–1 at home which did not bode well travelling to the notoriously hostile Ninian Park. After 90 minutes the match was 0–0 and with Cardiff preparing their celebrations James O'Connor scored in the last minute to send the match into extra time. Stoke completed a dramatic victory with O'Connor's shot deflecting in off Souleymane Oularé who was making his 2nd and final appearance for Stoke.
After Stoke had failed to gain promotion via the play-offs for two seasons running they were clear favourites to make it third time lucky. Stoke controlled the match from the start and took a 16th-minute lead via on loan striker Deon Burton. Stoke then scored again just before half time a Bjarni Guðjónsson free-kick was sliced into his own net by Ben Burgess to give Stoke a 2–0 lead. In the second half Brentford failed to mount a comeback and Stoke eased to victory and a return to the second tier for the first time since 1998. The victory was not enough however to earn manager Guðjón Þórðarson a new contract.
Burgess 45' (o.g.)
- "Stoke seal promotion". BBC Sport. 12 March 2011. Retrieved 2 December 2017.
- "Cursed no more... Potters win play-offs". The Sentinel. Stoke-on-Trent. 5 May 2013.
- "Stoke City season review 2001–02 third time lucky for Stoke". The Sentinel. Stoke-on-Trent. 31 May 2002.