It was late but it was great at Hillsborough as Chris Maguire’s goal deep into added time saw Wednesday take the honours in the South Yorkshire derby.
Nine-man Barnsley almost held out to the last but the in-form Maguire picked up possession in the 97th minute and drilled a low shot that nested into the Kop net to post three massive Championship points in a lively 1-0 win.
The game had earlier seen referee Andre Marriner issue three red cards.
Making his debut for the Reds, Emmanuel Frimpong picked a yellow card early in the game that was upgraded to red on the half hour mark.
Wednesday went on to boss possession but were reduced to ten men in the 80th minute when Jermaine Johnson picked up a straight red for a dangerous challenge on Brek Shea.
Jacob Mellis was then dismissed for a lunging tackle on Jacques Maghoma but the best of the action was to come.
In a dramatic twist, Maguire hit the back of the net in added time to settle a hugely entertaining derby.
The Reds went into the game five points adrift in the relegation zone and in desperate need of a result with just one win in nine prior to the S6 meeting.
Wednesday, though, had remained undefeated during that same period and started the game positively.
Maguire fizzed an early teasing cross in the middle that only just evaded the outstretched leg of Miguel Llera at the back stick.
Debut man Benik Afobe then saw his header deflected wide for a corner from a dangerous Kieran Lee centre as all the early pressure came from the hosts.
On the 17-minute mark, Hull loanee Nick Proschwitz had two bites at the cherry from a Mellis corner, with Jose Semedo clearing his first volley off the line, before Kirkland reacted quickly to save the rebound.
There was drama on the half-hour when Reds debutant Frimpong was sent off for a second bookable offence – a knock-on effect of which was the sacrifice of ex-Owl Chris O’Grady, who was replaced by midfielder Stephen Dawson.
The pressure from that point came from the Owls as Atdhe Nuhiu sent a powerful header over the bar and Maghoma saw his fierce effort well blocked in added time.
But Barnsley proved they were still a threat with a late break at the end of added time, as Dale Jennings’ drive from 18 yards was parried wide by Kirkland.
Throughout the opening 15 minutes of the second half, Barnsley were defending in numbers rigidly with the Owls asking all the question but unable to find the breakthrough.
A dangerous corner from Maguire saw Jack Hunt head against his own upright in an attempt to clear before Luke Steele made a good stop at full stretch from a looping Lee effort.
There was a sense it was not going to be Wednesday’s day as Barnsley’s resistance in the final third prevented the home side creating anything clear cut.
Then, with ten minutes left on the clock, the game took a huge twist when Jermaine Johnson was issued with a straight red card for a high challenge on Shea.
It was all action in the dying minutes as a Maguire freekick took a wicked a deflection off Jim O’Brien and landed just wide of the mark.
Mellis was then given his marching orders for a reckless tackle on Maghoma before the Owls sealed the most dramatic of wins.
The ball fell for Maguire 25 yards from goal and the Scot let fly with a low drive that beat Steele in the Kop net to send Hillsborough wild – as Stuart Gray’s men go marching on, now ten unbeaten.
Owls: Kirkland, Palmer, Llera, Onyewu, Mattock, Maguire, Lee, Semedo, Maghoma, Afobe (Jermaine Johnson 70), Nuhiu (Lavery 63)
Barnsley: Steele, Ramage, Kennedy, Cranie, Proschwitz, O’Grady (Dawson 34), Hunt (Cywka 77), Frimpong, Jennings (O’Brien 72), Mellis, Shea