Spot-kick joy for Town
What an incredible night, a night that will live long in the memory for every Huddersfield Town fan. An evening of goals, chances, high drama, all finished from the considerably dreaded penalty spot.
This was a game that nobody wanted to lose, and neither team took a backward step, and at no point did one player give up on a lost cause, or fail to go into a challenge. By the end of the game every player, every manager, every coach and every fan could leave the Galpharm Stadium with their heads held high.
Also as delighted as I was when Antony Kay put away the final penalty, and I would not have swapped the result for all the money in the world, I couldn’t help but feel sad for Bournemouth. A team assembled on a shoestring budget, played football of genuine quality, that left Huddersfield Town fans with some seriously bitten fingernails.
With fragile nerves settled by Lee Peltier’s opener, few could have predicted the high end drama that was to follow over the next 100 minutes. Bournemouth’s penalty restored parity before loanee Danny Ward, rifled in a great goal minutes later, with the last kick of the half, and once again we were all dreaming of Old Trafford.
With two goals in a matter of minutes, it became obvious to everyone that this was not going to be plain sailing from this point on. And so it transpired with Bournemouth equalising with a goal that could grace any game, and eventually taking us into extra time.
When they took the lead for the first time in the entire tie, I genuinely thought that we had blown our opportunity and that we’d leave the play offs as gallant losers once again.
However this is a different Huddersfield Town side, no longer do they give up when the odds are stacked against them. And once again we didn’t let Bournemouth relax on their lead, a beautifully whipped in corner, attacked with power by Antony Kay, and the Galpharm erupted once again.
As the clock ticked towards penalties, and the Cherries lost a man to a red card, I was hoping and praying that we’d grab a last minute winner. The thought of this Terriers team taking penalties, with the pressure on filled me with dread.
With so many recent penalty misses from Town stars, and Alan Lee, a man who swung a banjo at a cow’s backside and missed by a clear mile, heading out to take a penalty it would seem that I had good reason to be concerned.
Fortunately, it would seem that we were playing a team who are less competent from twelve yards than we are, and the first three Town stars dispatched their spot kicks with power and precision. During which time Ian Bennett, fast becoming a Town legend, had saved a penalty, and another Cherries player had blasted his shot hard against the bar.
Suddenly the onus was on Antony Kay, who during his time has divided fans opinion, but has always been a regular contributor of goals; if he scored we were in the final. A collective gasp as his shot crashed off the cross bar, fortunately it hit the underside, and bounced in and before you knew it hundreds of fans were pouring onto the Galpharm turf to celebrate.
This was a night to remember and there are moments to savour for a lifetime, but now the focus turns to Old Trafford, with the hard job still to be done, and a game against a very good Peterborough side still to be played out. So many questions are left unanswered, who will step up and enter themselves into Huddersfield Town folklore? Which manager will be triumphant? And will we be able to keep Posh’s Michael Ball look-a-like striker Craig Mackail Smith quiet?
Minutes will feel like hours, but come the evening of May 29th we will know which division we will be playing in next year. We’ve come this far, it would be rude not to go that little bit further. I’ve got my ticket, and I’ll see you there. Up the Town.