Huddersfield Town are tonight celebrating promotion to the Championship, following a tense play-off final with Sheffield United which was won on sudden death penalties after neither team managed a lead after extra time. The defeat for Sheffield United represented their fourth play-off final defeat in four, made that much more bitter by the fact it was their goalkeeper Steve Simonsen who sealed their fate, skying his own attempt on goal after three fantastic saves during the penalty shoot out. To add insult to injury, United’s city rivals Sheffield Wednesday will also be in a higher division than the Blades for the first time in over a decade.
There was little to separate the two sides during the match, with no goals from either team in the first 120 minutes. There were a few chances, most notably from Huddersfield’s Peter Clarke whose header brushed the side netting of the goal- inches off target. Sheffield United’s Steven Quinn also had a decent attempt, which was deflected wide as both teams seemed to be lacking in quality.
The real drama of the match came during the penalty shoot out. Miller, Williamson and Johnson all failed to convert their attempts from the spot, before Collins got the first goal, giving Sheffield the advantage. Lee and Lowton’s attempts were both saved before Clarke scored, bringing Huddersfield level and putting the pressure back on United. In the end, twenty penalties were attempted before the keepers got their opportunity- with Smithies just managing to put it past Simonsen, and Simonsen shooting his own attempt over the crossbar.
So tonight while the Blades are left to ponder what might have been, the Terriers have much to celebrate- 8-7 on penalties, and promotion to the second tier of English football secured.
Huddersfield Town: Smithies; Woods, P.Clarke, Morrison, Hunt; Higginbotham, Miller, Johnson, Ward; Novak, Rhodes. Substitutes: Roberts, T.Clarke, Arfield, Lee, Colgan.
Sheffield United: Simonsen; Lowton, Maguire, Collins, Hill; Williamson, Montgomery, Doyle, Flynn; Quinn; Cresswell. Substitutes: Howard, Taylor, McAllister, Porter, O’Halloran.