Barnsley 2 Swansea City 2: Colgan wins friends and the final for Barnsley

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The Independent Online

On the day that two legends of cricket applauded Barnsley's elevation to the Championship, football witnessed an act of sporting comradeship at the Millennium Stadium which reminded us all of last summer's gloriously contested Ashes Series.

We will never forget that August Sunday when Andrew Flintoff was seen consoling his battered and bruised opponent Brett Lee, the Australian fast bowler who had remained defiant for 43 unbeaten runs, after England had snatched a two-run victory.

Well maybe a League One Play-off Final does not rate as such a high-profile occasion but surely Nick Colgan, the Barnsley goalkeeper, deserves equal praise for his sportsmanship after the Yorkshiremen had defeated the Swans in a penalty shoot-out with the score locked at 2-2 after extra time.

The Republic of Ireland international had suffered a torrid opening 45 minutes where he was even mocked by his own fans when he allowed Andy Robinson's 25-yard shot to slip through his hands to gift the Welshmen a 2-1 advantage just before half-time.

He even braved extra goalkeeping practice in front of the Swansea fans at the break to get his game back on track and, after Daniel Nardiello's free-kick forced extra time, it was inevitable that the former Celtic player would eventually emerge as the hero when he saved Alan Tate's penalty after Adebayo Akinfenwa had already sent his spot-kick over.

As Dickie Bird, our best- loved cricket umpire, and former England paceman Darren Gough rejoiced in their home town's success, Colgan chose to console every member of the devastated Swansea side before celebrating the first promotion of his 11-club career.

Colgan said: "Swansea's players were an absolute credit to their club - they fought hard. I've been on the end of defeats, the past two Scottish Cup finals for a start, and it's not nice.

"I just went around saying: 'Thanks for the game, well played'. That was it. It's nice to celebrate with your own supporters but I think it is nice to be a good sportsman and thank them for their participation in the game. When that goal went in I wanted the roof to open and for someone to abseil down and take me out of the stadium but promotion is wonderful. It's right up there with everything I've achieved, the eight Ireland caps and everything else."

Colgan is one of a handful of players Andy Ritchie must sit down with this week to discuss new terms, but the manager made it abundantly clear that the club would never again repeat the mistakes of the late Nineties when the Tykes over-committed themselves financially to reach the Premier League only to tumble down two tiers and into administration.

Swansea, leaders of League One at the turn of the year, took defeat hard especially after the way they overcame Paul Hayes' 28th minute opener for Barnsley to take the lead through Rory Fallon's audacious over-head kick equaliser and Robinson's lucky effort courtesy of Colgan.

Manager Kenny Jackett's first priority will be to keep hold of talismanic striker Lee Trundle who was targeted by Everton in January. He said: "There is no issue - he is under contract and I want him to stay."

Barnsley (4-4-2): Colgan; Hassell, Keckingbottom, Reid, Kay; Hayes, McPhail, Howard (Tonge, 73), Devaney; Richards (Wright, 70), Nardiello (Shuker, 96). Substitutes not used: Flinders, Austin.

Swansea City (4-4-2): Gueret; Ricketts, Austin, Tate, Monk; O'Leary, Britton, Robinson (McLeod, 105), Tudor-Jones; Knight (Trundle, 69), Fallon (Akinfenwa, 94). Substitutes not used: Murphy (gk), Williams.

Referee: L Mason (Lancashire).

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