MARTIJN Reuser’s injury-time goal for Ipswich Town killed Barnsley’s chances of reaching the Premiership in 2000, denied Craig Hignett the honour of being the last club player to score in a club match at the old Wembley and ended his sensational spell at Oakwell.
Hignett – who made it 3-2 – was the last Englishman to score in a competitive game at the old Wembley.
Reuser, who netted Ipswich’s fourth, was Dutch, while England’s 2-0 victory over Ukraine two days after the play-off final, in which Robbie Fowler and Tony Adams struck, was a friendly.
The final match, a World Cup qualifier, saw German Dietmar Hamann net the only goal in a 1-0 England loss.
Hignett would move to Blackburn Rovers for £2.25million that summer – as Barnsley looked to cut costs – after a fantastic two-year spell which brought 37 goals in 80 games including 21 in that 1999/200 season. Hignett said: “I was 31 and my contract had a year to run.
“If we had gone up, I would obviously have stayed. Harry (manager Dave Bassett) needed to save some money and he had a decent offer for a player my age. If they didn’t want to sell me, it would have been too hard to leave because I loved Barnsley. But they needed to generate some revenue. It was still a wrench to leave.”
Hignett had been signed by John Hendrie but also enjoyed playing under his replacement Bassett.
“Harry was a players’ manager. If you did well for him, he would look after you. We had a really good team spirit.
“He brought in some important players like Neil Shipperley, Geoff Thomas and David Tuttle who was a real livewire in the dressing room. Harry had been around a long time and knew what he was doing. It took me about six games to score my first goal against Portsmouth. I had a spell over Christmas when I scored a lot of goals and I was just expecting to score and win every game. It was great.
“I thought we could have pushed a bit more to get in the automatic promotion spots. I wouldn’t say we tailed off but we had a couple of dickie results in the last few weeks.
“We had a lot of people who could score goals. Robbie Van Der Laan was a threat when he played, we had crosses from players like Nicky Eaden, Darren Barnard and John Curtis.
“At set pieces, we had players like Chris Morgan who would get his head on things. We defended set pieces very well, until the final which was obviously absolutely gutting.”