Luton Town

Luton Town

Championship

Honours even as Luton hold dominant Huddersfield in play-off opener

Neil Foster
Danel Sinani Huddersfield Town 2022 TEAMtalk1

It is all to play for in the second leg as the Championship play-off semi-final between Luton Town and Huddersfield Town ended in a 1-1 draw.

Danel Sinani gave the Terriers the lead early in the first period before Sonny Bradley levelled affairs before the break. The away side enjoyed the best of the second period but neither side could find a winner. Luton boss Nathan Jones opted for the same starting XI that beat Reading last time out to secure their spot in the play-offs. Huddersfield chief Carlos Corberan made three changes from the team that beat Bristol City last Saturday.

Lewis O’Brien was handed a start after missing the final game of the regular season with an abdominal issue. He came in for Carel Eiting, while Lee Nicholls replaced Jamal Blackman in goal and Tom Lees returned in defence in place of Pipa.

Huddersfield finished third in the standings and are favourites to progress to the final. And they had a decent penalty claim in the first minute of the contest.

Harry Toffolo looked to get on the end of Ollie Turton’s and went down after a push from James Bree but the referee saw it otherwise.

The Hatters then tested Nicholls as Bree forced the Terries keeper into a decent save. That effort seemed to spark Luton into life and they dominated the opening exchanges.

However, Huddersfield drew first blood on 12 minutes through Sinani. A slick counterattack saw Toffolo feed the Luxembourg star whose low shot flew past Matt Ingram.

But far from being overawed, Luton regained control and were level on the half-hour mark. Kal Naismith’s free-kick into the box found Bradley, who gave Nicholls no chance from close range.

onny Bradley Luton Town 2022 TEAMtalk1

Cameron Jerome then claimed a penalty after Naby Sarr appeared to bring him down but again the referee waved play on. Jones was not happy on the touchline and replays showed his anger was justified.

Huddersfield did enjoy a decent moment as the half drew to a close as Ingram was forced to save well from Danny Ward’s header.

Huddersfield show their class

The Yorkshire outfit were  forced into a change at half-time, with Pipa replacing Turton at right wing-back.

But it was Luton who made the best start to the second period, with Naismith again on the money with a dangerous free-kick. However on this occasion there was nobody on hand to touch it home.

The hosts were in the ascendancy for the early part of the second half and dominated possession before Huddersfield began to find their feet.

And yet another penalty shout was ignored as Bradley seemed to pull Sarr down following a Huddersfield free-kick.

Corberan’s men worked the ball around nicely, with 83% of the possession in a 10-minute spell during the half. Duane Holmes was excellent in the middle of the park, finding Lewis O’Brien whose shot was blocked for one of many corners for the Terriers.

And Holmes also fed Pip late on but the Spaniard’s shot was deflected behind.

Luton had their moments but Huddersfield showed why they finished third in the division. And they will be strong favourites to finish the job at John Smith’s Stadium on Monday evening.