Darren Ferguson left to bemoan 'cruel night' and refereeing decisions as Peterborough United denied a place at Wembley on penalty kicks
Posh went into the game hot favourites with their 4-0 lead from the first leg, but conceded four unanswered goals in normal time before going on to lose 5-1 on the night after extra time.
That led to a penalty shootout in which Posh were beaten 5-3, with the decisive moment coming when substitute Dan Butler smashed his spot-kick onto the top of the crossbar.
Ferguson was left dejected after the final whistle on a night when Posh were just seconds away from an aggregate victory in normal time, before Wednesday’s Liam Palmer made it 4-0 with the last kick.
Posh even retook the lead in extra-time courtesy of a Lee Gregory own goal but ultimately missed out on a Wembley final.
Ferguson expressed his disappointment with the result and a couple of key refereeing decisions he felt went against his side.
Ferguson said: “It’s very raw. Football can be a cruel game and tonight is a cruel night. It’s really, really hard to take.
“We had to be composed in our defending. They’re massive and we knew they’d just launch it. Joe has made a bad decision (giving away a penalty in the 7th minute) and that gave them momentum. We knew how they were going to play and it’s so hard to stop so we knew we’d have to outscore them. We had four really good opportunities in the first half and we had to take one of them.
“We changed things at half time. I had to get more natural full-backs on (Nathan Thompson and Dan Butler replaced Harrison Burrows and Joe Ward), it was hard to do because Harrison and Joe have been brilliant for us, but that’s why I put extra defenders on the bench.
“It then goes to 3-0 and I thought we were calm. The fans had quietened down for the first time and then they start to launch it in the box to Vaulks and Flint, who they brought on.
“This place is a rare place in League One and that’s why I knew the tie wasn’t over at 4-0. Our aim was to get the first goal. I knew if they got the momentum, their fans could drag them across the line. The way the game has ended is so raw. We’ve got a chance to clear it out of the box and they score with the last kick of the game.
“The referee was desperate to give them another opportunity. He plays 90 seconds more, there may be another 30, but not 90 seconds. I don’t want to sound bitter as it’s not the ref’s fault we’ve lost, but he’s got to do his job.
"And on top of that Ephron Mason-Clark is clean through in extra time and Flint brought him down. The decision is disgraceful. It’s a red card, but all that aside, I have to congratulate Sheffield Wednesday as they’ve done enough over two legs to beat us.
“When you make the decisions we did, it can be hard to get momentum back. I’ve seen far better teams than us lose it psychologically.
“Even in extra time, after we went ahead, I still felt we needed another goal and unfortunately we didn’t get one. We had to keep the ball and make them run and when we did that, we had more legs than them but, in the end, we couldn’t cope with their physicality.
“We had prepared for penalties because I had to be as thorough as possible. Unfortunately, one player had to make a mistake that would cost his team and unfortunately, it was one of ours.
“Unfortunately, there’s not a team in this league like with this sort of atmosphere and we just couldn’t control it tonight.
"It’s a cruel game. For these young players, they need to remember this.”
Posh’s season is now officially over and therefore Ferguson’s contract is set to expire. It is not yet known whether he will be offered a new deal due to discussions being put back to whenever Posh’s campaign came to an end.