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First Championship playoff finalist confirmed following semi final second leg

The first Championship playoff finalist has been confirmed following Monday night’s semi final second leg at the John Smith’s Stadium.

Coming into this game between Huddersfield and Luton Town, we knew that winner would go on to face Nottingham Forest or Sheffield United in final on the 29th of May.

There are no away goals rule – with the tie going to extra time if the aggregate score was level after 90 mins, worth keeping in mind considering the first leg finished 1-1 – Sinani goal for Huddersfield, Bradley volley for Hatters.

The Terriers finished the 2021/22 season in 3rd place, seven points above sixth-placed Luton who were last in the top flight 30 years ago while Huddersfield were in the Premier League as recently as 2018-19.

The other second leg of the week, Nottingham Forest v Sheffield United, takes place on Tuesday (19:45 BST). But first, time to see how Monday’s second leg tie played out…

Five minutes in and Luton won a couple early corners, taken by veteran Robert Snodgrass – who was booed by home fans for his previous allegiance to Leeds. The deliveries showed quality but Huddersfield defended well.

Jonathan Smith (Former Luton midfielder on BBC Three Counties Radio): “There’s a clear tactic from Luton to get the ball forward quickly at the moment.

“They’re trying to put Huddersfield under pressure – and get Danny Hylton into the game – it’s been a good start from them here.”

First opening of the evening came 8 minutes in for Luton. The ball was played through for Harry Cornick to run onto, which he did on the left-hand side of the box, before dragging a low shot across the face of goal.

Moments later, a crucial stop was made by from Lee Nicholls to deny Luton the opening goal. Kal Naismith was found by Allan Campbell with a pass through the eye of a needle, with his cross finding the run of Harry Cornick, who hit the ball too cleanly and straight at the Terriers stopper.

Then there was another shot on target for Luton, as Robert Snodgrass hit a shot from the edge of the area after a patient build-up. Lee Nicholls should hold, but he palmed to the back post, where Amari’i Bell diverts the ball wide.

Huddersfield were beginning to get hold of the ball a bit further up the pitch halfway through the first half. Danel Sinani, was putting in a good shift all over the pitch, coaxing the ball in from the left for Danny Ward, who guided a header over the bar.

There was another big save from Lee Nicholls, who had to be alert to push James Bree’s cross-come-shot past the left-hand post.

A corner from the left missed everyone in the box, including stationary Huddersfield players, before being touched behind by Allan Campbell. A wake up call for the hosts with plenty of chances coming Luton’s way.

After Lewis O’Brien raced down the left and crossed the ball into the box with no one there to put it into the back of the net, Jordan Clark opened up his body and tried a shot from the edge of the box, which Lee Nicholls held easily. The keeper vital for the Terriers in the first half.

In the 37th minute, Huddersfield came close to punishing Luton’s missed chances. Harry Toffolo made his way through the Hatters’ backline and struck a shot that saw Matt Ingram forced to push away from danger.

Sky Sports’ EFL Editor Simeon Gholam at the John Smith’s Stadium: “Huddersfield’s best moment of the night so far, that. Two brilliant shimmies from Toffolo to create the opening. Just couldn’t find the finish.

“That should at least lift the locals.”

Danny Ward slipped and went down in pain, after having treatment, Jordan Rhodes was sent on to replace him in attack for Huddersfield.

James Bree produced a shot from 20 yards that Lee Nicholls managed to hold onto with the first half coming to an end.

There was enough time to see a Huddersfield free-kick in a dangerous spot with Sinani going on to fire over the bar.

Sky Sports’ EFL Editor Simeon Gholam: “Luton’s half that. Far more positive than Huddersfield, and they’ve had chances to take the lead in the tie.

“The Terriers are yet to sink their teeth into this one. But that might make Carlos Corberan the happier of the two managers. A season-defining 45 minutes – and maybe extra-time and penalties – to come.”

It was a bright start from Huddersfield early second half. Danel Sinani’s corner was just out of reach of Jon Russell, the hosts get the ball back, though was headed just over the bar by Tom Lees.

Danel Sinani let the ball run across him before pulling shooting at Matt Ingram holds.

Luton’s Amari’i Bell connected with Allan Campbell’s cross from the right, with his header clipped on its way out of play. He appeals, but the officials dismissed claims.

The 64th minute saw a yellow card handed out to Kal Naismith after charging through the back of Sorba Thomas, who had just come on.

Then Tom Lees rose to head Thomas’ wicked delivery into the bottom right corner of the net, though it will not count after the referee spotted an infringement.

Robert Snodgrass delivered a great looking free-kick from deep into the box, though Cameron Jerome headed across the face of goal, another wasted chance.

Andy Hinchcliffe on Sky Sports Football: “When it gets to this point in the game, you can lose the game trying to win in. The two sides were closely-matched before tonight and that’s how it’s proving to be again tonight.”

A momentary lapse from Jonathan Hogg saw Harry Cornick latch onto a ball into the box and hit a shot in that Lee Nicholls pushed away.

A big moment in the 75th minute, Harry Toffolo charged in as Matt Ingram dropped the ball at the back post, with the goalkeeper’s left arm catching his opponent, who went to ground and furiously appeals. Luton escape that one with no VAR.

Matthew Glennon (Former Huddersfield keeper on BBC Radio Leeds): “The referee didn’t even acknowledge the penalty claims. It’s a stonewaller!

“Town players have got to keep their heads now.”

Cameron Jerome was the third Luton player to have his name taken before the deadlock was finally broken.

Huddersfield went less than 10 minutes away from Wembley and the Championship playoff final when Sorba Thomas whipped a ball in from the left-hand side, over everyone in the box and to the back post, substitute Jordan Rhodes stuck out a leg to find the net before Amari’i Bell can prevent him from doing so.

88th minute saw Huddersfield continue to find another. Though Pipa fired an effort from 25 yards, but lifted his shot just over the bar.

The final roll of the dice from Luton… Elijah Adebayo being brought on as Harry Cornick made way.

However Huddersfield held on for the win and go just one game away from returning back to the top flight.

Matthew Glennon: “It’s been absolutely brilliant. Yeah, it wasn’t the best performance tonight but they got the job done. Lee Nicholls has been great all season and he stood up today, and then a bit of magic from Sorba Thomas. Across the season this is thoroughly deserved, even if they rode their luck tonight. Huddersfield found a way to win and they’ve got to enjoy it now. Football is over too quickly and you have got to soak in every last bit of it. Now I have to lose six pounds to fit into my Wembley shirt!”

Sky Sports’ EFL Editor Simeon Gholam: “They have done it! A late Jordan Rhodes goal has sealed this tightest of ties and it’s sent Huddersfield Town to Wembley.

“What scenes here in Huddersfield. Their bid to return to the Premier League after a three-year absence continues. All eyes for them on the City Ground tomorrow night to see who they will be facing in the final. After the pitch invasion, and the party tonight of course.

“Luton – after an incredible campaign of their own – will be back in the Championship next season.”

Jobi McAnuff on Sky Sports Football: “It is what they have worked all season for. They would have dreamed of this for so long, but the job is not done. They can enjoy tonight, but there is still another game to play at Wembley.”

Curtis Davies on Sky Sports Football: “It is an amazing feeling, particularly after they conceded so many chances in the first half. Luton were the better team, but to come out on top will be a massive relief for Huddersfield.”

Twitter users reacted as the first Championship playoff finalist is confirmed following Monday’s semi final second leg…

@pwefc1: So lucky I hope you lose the final ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป

@LeviLTFC: Thatโ€™s what we get for not taking our chances I guess, enjoy Wembley lads. See you next season ๐Ÿ˜‰

@habbyhatter: Congratulations Guys, a cracking tie. Go and win it!

@jakeTheOwl3: Whatโ€™s with pitch invasion? U havenโ€™t gone up just yet

@RockinaRobin: Fair play to your lot.. I am gutted, genuinely believe we had the better of both games. Good club, good fans.. Good luck in the final..

@WFCHenry: always liked huddersfield

@leigh72watford: Cheers @htafc love from @WatfordFC ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ

@funkyhorey: Thank you! Thank you and thank you again!! What a feeling!! You deserve this so much!! Im overwhelmed and bloody buzzing!! Team work!! I love you ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿค๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿค๐Ÿ’™

@NickCorste: Forest are Prem bound Iโ€™m afraidโ€ฆ Better luck next time lads but congrats on the win anyway ๐Ÿ‘Š

@wfccaity: Hope you go up x

@Bagshothatter: Congratulations guys. Think we edged that game, but if you don’t take golden chances then you don’t win. Good luck at Wembley. Will be rooting for you

@hudd_giants: Giants are in the challenge cup final, town are in the play off finalโ€ฆ Itโ€™s a Huddersfield take over in London! Letโ€™s โ€˜ave it! ๐Ÿป

@Hxrtleyy: Yes it hurts and yes im gutted but am i disappointed.. Absolutely not. What a season we’ve had and you can bet your life we’ll be back just as strong next season. Thank you Nathan. COYH

@matt39728060: Probably the most undeserved defeat of the season

@Toby_Hornet: UNLUCKYY LADS ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

@EdTheHatter: What a bloody great performance ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ Lads can be so f*cking proud of themselves ๐Ÿงก Up the Town!!!

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