Lee Gregory’s added time winner kept Wednesday on course for the play-offs after we largely huffed and puffed our way through 90-plus minutes against struggling AFC Wimbledon at Hillsborough this afternoon.
Gregory’s 92nd minute header sealed a 2-1 win and lifts us into fifth place on 72 points from 40 games, two points and one place ahead of Sunderland who sit in the final play-off spot.
Oxford and Wycombe are both just outside the top six, with 69 points apiece from 40 played, while above us Plymouth are in fourth on 77 points, having played a game more than the Owls, with MK Dons in third on 79 points from 40 matches.
Rotherham remain top on 80 points from 39 games with Wigan second on the same points after 38 played.
Gregory’s match-winner came just when we were staring at another vital two home points being dropped against stubborn opposition.
With 92 minutes on the clock, Callum Paterson rose to nod Barry Bannan’s centre back across goal and there was poacher Gregory to squeeze his diving header between a Wimbledon defender and the post.
We had got the early lead we wanted when Jack Hunt followed up last week’s first-ever goal for the club with another on 11 minutes.
Barry Bannan’s cross was allowed to bounce in the box and Hunt pounced with his own diving header at the far post to send the ball into the roof of the net.
It should have been 2-0 four minutes later when Bannan found Nathaniel Mendez-Laing in space in the box but his angled drive went across goal and past the post.
We were made to pay for that miss on 22 minutes when poor defending saw Zach Robinson beat the offside trap and he pulled the ball back to the near post for Ayoub Assal to fire home from six yards.
With Wimbledon gaining in confidence, they went close to taking the lead when Marvin Johnson blocked Robinson’s effort from a corner.
We continued to lack tempo and intensity at the start of the second half but at least created a few more goal threats, compared to the first 45 minutes.
Massimo Luongo shot across goal and wide from inside the box, Saido Berahino just failed to connect with a Gregory effort within seconds of coming on as a sub and Mendez-Laing tested keeper Nikola Tzanev with a 20-yarder.
However, Bailey Peacock-Farrell came to the rescue 10 minutes from time after Mendez-Laing gave away possession in midfield. It left Wimbledon attackers bearing down on goal but the Owls keeper saved the day with an excellent block from Assal’s strike.
It was a crucial save at the time and proved doubly so minutes later when Gregory struck with that late, late winner to keep us very much in the division one play-off race.
Peacock-Farrell, Hunt, Iorfa (Berahino 67), Dean, Hutchinson, Johnson, Byers (Paterson 86), Luongo, Bannan, Mendez-Laing (Shodipo 86), Gregory. Unused subs: Wildsmith, Dunkley, Dele-Bashiru, Sow. Attendance: 22,374.