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23:40 15th May 2012

TOWN 1 (3) MK DONS 2 (2)

Town sealed their passage to a second successive Play-Off Final appearance despite losing on the night 2-1 to MK Dons.

Jordan Rhodes' early goal settled the nerves for the Terriers and gave his side what looked like an unassailable three goal lead on aggregate.

However, the Dons played the better football on the night and deservedly levelled through Daniel Powell. Town saw out the 45 minutes of the second half, but in the second minute of injury time Alan Smith closed the deficit to just one. The visitors went in search of an equaliser, but it was too little too late andĀ in the end it was the Terriers who progressed on to Wembley to compete against Sheffield United for a place in the Championship.

Simon Grayson was forced to make one change to the team that defeated MK Dons on Saturday with Kallum Higginbotham replacing Scott Arfield, who had failed a late fitness test on his ankle.

The Dons had to start brightly if they were going to have any chance of closing the two goal deficit and they did exactly that with winger Daniel Powell causing a mix up in the Town defence within the first two minutes, which Ian Bennett did well to clear.

After a nervy opening the Terriers had their first sight on goal when Lee Novak collected Damien Johnson's knock down and dragged his shot from the edge of the area the wrong side of David Martin's left upright.

The Dons were looking a threat on the break and at times were attacking with five men against the Terriers' back four; in the 15th minute a clever through ball released Charlie MacDonald in behind Sean Morrison, but thankfully for Town Benno was quick off his line and averted the danger by diving at the feet of the former Brentford striker.

GOAL -The Terriers were soaking up a lot of pressure from the away side during the opening stages of the game, however, it only took a long ball from Jack Hunt and a cool head from Jordan Rhodes to break the deadlock. The right-back's free-kick was superbly flicked into the path of Rhodes by Danny Ward and the striker made no mistake with his weaker left foot to notch his 40th goal of the season from eight yards.

The Dons continued to attack after Rhodes' opener and after some neat interplay down their left former Yeovil striker Dean Bowditch curled a goal bound shot which hit Peter Clarke and deflected out for a corner. Prior to that Rhodes thought he had put Ward through on goal, however, the move was halted for an offside.

SUB -Simon Grayson was once again forced into a change because of an injury when Ian Bennett picked up a knock to his hand defending a low cross from Bowditch in the 35th minute. Town had a readymade replacement in stopper Alex Smithies to call upon.

GOAL -The Dons deservedly levelled with six minutes of the half remaining when Daniel Powell swivelled neatly on the edge of the box and curled into the far corner. Adam Chicksen provided the assist from the right and after the powerful winger killed the ball expertly he turned and shot to reduce to the deficit to two.

The Dons' goal scorer Powell was causing Calum Woods and Peter Clarke a headache down the left flank and in the 43rd minute his cross almost produced a second for the visitors. MacDonald was the recipient and if it hadn't been for the attentions of Morrison he would have scored, however, instead the ball skimmed the post to the relief of 15,000 Town fans.


The Dons started the half inĀ determined mood and broke through the Terriers backline within just four minutes of the restart when Darren Potter's neat slide-rule pass found MacDonald and despite his good first touch he slotted wide when one on one with Smithies.

The Terriers took their time to grow into the second half and when they did they had a golden opportunity to seal their place in the Final. Jack Hunt scored his first goal in over seven months on Saturday and he should have had another on the hour mark when he was released by Higginbotham. The right-back charged through on goal but saw his effort blocked by Martin, Novak came in with the follow-up and also saw his effort blocked away by the Dons' stopper.

As the half continued Stephen Gleeson and Ward exchanged wild shots before a great piece of play from Higginbotham picked out Ward at the back stick who side volleyed across and just wide of Martin's left upright.

SUBS -With twenty minutes remaining the visitors changed things up with Luke Chadwick and Jabo Ibehre replacing Dean Bowditch and Adam Chicksen.

SUB -Combative midfielder Anton Robinson was introduced into the fray in the 78th minute for Tommy Miller as the Terriers looked for fresh legs in the middle of the park.

SUB -Karl Robinson's final throw of the dice was to throw on former Leeds striker Alan Smith for Charlie MacDonald.

Unsurprisingly the Dons were throwing the kitchen sink at Town as they searched for a goal, but they had failed to test Alex Smithies in the second 45 and that theme continued in the 82nd minute when Jabo Ibehre fired high and wide from 20 yards.

SUB -Kallum Higginbotham was deservingly given a standing ovation as he left the field with three minutes remaining for the versatile Tom Clarke.

In the second minute of added on time the Dons finally tested Smithies but the 'keeper showed good agility to firstly deny Ibehre and then Powell's follow up.

GOAL -With two minutes to go Alan Smith gave his side the lead when he slid to head home the resulting corner.

BOOKING -Skipper Peter Clarke was shown a yellow after kicking the ball away following Smith's goal.


Town's team (4-4-2):

Ian Bennett (Alex Smithies 35); Calum Woods, Peter Clarke (c), Sean Morrison, Jack Hunt; Danny Ward, Damien Johnson, Tommy Miller (Anton Robinson 78), Kallum Higginbotham (Tom Clarke 87); Jordan Rhodes, Lee Novak

Unused substitutes:

Tom Clarke, Gary Roberts, Alan Lee

Bookings Town:Peter Clarke, 90+2

Bookings Dons:



    Data provided by Press Association


    Town was the first club to win three successive league titles in 1926. Only Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have matched this feat.