Thursday 2 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
Andrew Matthews Swindon Town's Michael Smith celebrates after he scores his second.
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Joy for Ireland's Rodgers as Swindon reach League One playoff final after 10-goal thriller
The club will face Preston in the final after drawing 5-5 in a thrilling second-leg this evening.

SWINDON TOWN WILL meet Preston North End in the League One play-off final after a pulsating 5-5 draw earned them a 7-6 aggregate win over Sheffield United.

Mark Cooper’s men headed into Monday’s semi-final second leg with the advantage after a 2-1 victory at Bramall Lane last Thursday, but were made to sweat for their place at Wembley in a hugely exciting encounter.

Swindon had the better of a breathless opening to the game, with Ben Gladwin’s double inside the opening 10 minutes seemingly putting them in complete control of the tie.

Things got even better for the rampant hosts when Michael Smith put them three up on the evening and 5-1 to the good on aggregate when he fired home from inside the area after 18 minutes. United were given a glimmer of hope immediately after Smith’s strike when Swindon’s Nathan Thompson deflected Jamie Murphy’s shot past his own keeper.

And the visitors’ fightback continued before the break when Chris Basham netted with a fantastic diving header to reduce the arrears to two on aggregate.

Smith appeared to have put the tie beyond doubt when he scored from the penalty spot just before the hour to make it 6-3 to Swindon on aggregate, only for United substitute Steven Davies to head home soon after.

Swindon’s Jonathan Obika scored a brilliant individual effort to put daylight between the teams again with six minutes to go. But United were not finished, as Matt Done and Che Adams set up a grandstand finale by drawing them level on the night at 5-5 and just one down on aggregate.

However, Nigel Clough’s side were unable to complete a remarkable comeback in eight minutes of injury time as Swindon edged their way to Wembley in the most dramatic of circumstances.

The result was good news for former Ireland U19 international Anton Rodgers — son of Liverpool boss Brendan — with the youngster featuring as a substitute, while there was heartbreak for Dubliner Michael Doyle, who was an unused sub for the visitors on the night.

Additional reporting by Paul Fennessy

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