Semi Ajayi has sealed a return to the English Premier League with West Bromwich Albion despite the Baggies playing a 2-2 draw with Queens Park Rangers on a dramatic final day in the English Championship.
The Baggies, second in the Championship, needed to win to be certain of automatic promotion ahead of the third-placed Brentford who were two points behind.
But Brentford’s loss at home to Barnsley who escaped relegation with the victory, meant West Brom’s stalemate was not costly.
It was the second straight gift Brentford had given up to the Baggies after The Bees passed up a golden opportunity to leapfrog West Brom last week and take charge of their automatic promotion hopes.
A loss at Huddersfield Town last Friday had seemingly taken the Baggies promotion fate out of their hands but Brentford failed to capitalise and lost at Stoke to hand the Baggies a reprieve.
With Leeds already crowned champions, the battle for the only remaining automatic slot went into the final day with both sides needing to better the result of the other.
West Brom with Ajayi in the centre of defence welcomed QPR who had Nigeria-eligible Eberechi Eze on from.the start to The Hawthorns while Brentford hosted relegation-threatened Barnsley who needed a win to secure their Championship status to Griffin Park.
The games, however, didn’t go as planned for both hosts as they both fell behind in the first half with Ryan Manning scoring for QPR while Callum Styles opened scoring for Barnsley.
West Brom hit back just before half time through Grady Diangana to once again take charge of their promotion chase.
Callum Robinson then scored four minutes after the restart to put the Baggies firmly in the driver’s seat but Eze hit back just after the hour mark to rattle nerves at the Hawthorns.
Over at Griffin Park, Joshua DaSilva struck for the Bees to bring them level with twenty minutes left but as they piled on in search of the winner that would take them up, Clarke Odour struck the winner for Barnsley in the 90th-minute to crush Brentford’s automatic promotion hopes and bring the Bees crashing back to earth.
As news of Brentford’s loss filtered in, Ajayi and his teammates who had hld on to draw with QPR launched into manic celebrations.
Brentford must now navigate through the playoffs where they’ll vie with Fulham, Swansea and Cardiff City for a chance to play topflight football next season.
Barnsley, meanwhile, are safe for another season as are Championship newcomers Luton Town who beat Blackburn Rovers on the final day to complete a remarkable late surge to survival.
Wigan who had 12 points deducted from their points total for falling into administration, drew with Fulham and are relegated to League One as are Hull City and Charlton Athletic.