Thursday, 19 May 2011

Huddersfield Town 3 AFC Bournemouth 3 Huddersfield win 4-2 on penalties

League One Playoff semi-final

Huddersfield Town 3

AFC Bournemouth 3

After extra-time, score at 90 minutes 2-2

Aggregate 4-4

Huddersfield Town win 4-2 on penalties

This was a real thriller of a match that finished with Huddersfield Town progressing to the League One playoff final. Lee Clark’s side held their nerves to successfully convert more of their spot kicks in the penalty shoot out that followed a fourth draw between the sides this season. Antony Kay’s decisive finish to make it 4-2 saw thousands pour on to the pitch in joyous celebration. The Terriers will now play either Peterborough United or MK Dons, who play tonight, at Old Trafford in ten days time.

To the excitement of their followers the home side pressed from the kick-off and could have taken the lead if Gary Roberts had shown a little more composure when presented with a chance to beat Shwan Jalal from the edge of the area. The midfielder then saw his shot blocked by Shaun Cooper before Bournemouth’s Adam Smith, surging forward from defence, hammered a shot just wide of Ian Bennett’s goal.

Roberts then had a header well saved but from his follow up corner Lee Peltier powerfully headed home from inside the six yard box to make it 1-0 on 26 minutes.  It was a deserved lead but it was almost immediately whipped out only for Bennett to deny Donal McDermott with a fine save. The keeper however had no chance when, following a Kay foul on Smith, Steve Lovell blasted the resulting penalty kick high into the net.

Jordan Rhodes might have restored Huddersfield’s lead with another penalty area header before right on the stroke of half-time Danny Ward did so with a lovely goal. Picking up the ball 30 yards out he turned inside and drove an unstoppable left foot shot beyond the despairing dive of Jalal.

When the match resumed Rhodes again spurned a good chance. It proved costly as on 63 minutes Lovell again drove Bournemouth level, when after receiving a neat Rhoys Wiggins pass he made space for himself before beating Bennett from a tight angle.

At this stage it looked like the 700 away fans would be enjoying a celebratory ride home, Huddersfield’s passing was going increasingly adrift and Bournemouth’s neater, more attractive style of football looked like it would pay off. Credit to the home side though, they rolled up their sleeves and might have won the game only for Benik Afobe to fire wide from eight yards before Mr Swarbrick, who refereed the game excellently, blew to send the match into extra-time.

With just ninety seconds remaining the first period of extra-time looked certain to end without any further goals when substitute Marc Pugh produced a wonderful cross to which Danny Ings applied the slightest of headed touches to put Bournemouth into the lead for the first time. The Cherries celebrations were however cut short when Huddersfield almost immediately equalised when Kay headed home a Roberts corner to make it 3-3.

With just eight minutes remaining Bournemouth skipper Jason Pearce was sent off for a late studs up challenge on Kevin Kilbane. Pegged back the south coast side somehow hung on as the ball bounced around the six-yard box in the last few minutes before the contest ended tied 4-4 on aggregate.

Only eight penalties were needed to finally settle the contest, because after Liam Feeney and Anton Robinson had both missed for Bournemouth Kay stepped up to beat Jalal.

Coming out of the ground Brian Mawhinney, Honorary President of the Football League, summed things up perfectly after this exciting encounter when he said: “It’s what the playoffs are all about.”

Celebrating Terriers fans at the end of a thrilling match 

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