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17:57 26th May 2012


Huddersfield Town are in the Championship!

The Terriers are back in the second flight of English football after defeating West Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United 8 -7 on penalties - with 'keeper Alex Smithies scoring the winner!

Town had the better chances over the 120 minutes with Peter Clarke going close on three separate occasions - his third header had to be cleared off the line. Tommy Miller also suffered the same fate when Kevin Doyle blocked his goal bound shot.

United had chances of their own and forced Alex Smithies into an excellent save when the tricky Irishman Stephen Quinn squirmed through the Town defence and shot low.

The game kicked off in the baking hot sun at England's fantastic national stadium, with the Terriers - in their home kit of blue and white stripes - kicking away from their fans in the first half.

The atmosphere was electric in the early stages as both sides settled into the occasion, with Calum Woods coming out of a fierce 50-50 challenge much better than opposing winger Lee Williamson to much acclaim from the Town faithful.

Town forced the first corner of the game in the 7th minute after more good work from the left-sided duo of Woods and Higginbotham and when Tommy Miller nodded the set-piece across goal at the back post, a United defender had to block Sean Morrison's goal-bound effort behind.

Jack Hunt then got in on the act, receiving a pass from Higginbotham before skinning left back Matt Hill; his cross was deflected to the edge of the box where Higginbotham lined up a volley - which he dragged well wide.

Sheffield United launched their first attack in the 11th minute after a moment of uncertainty between skipper Peter Clarke and 'keeper Alex Smithies, in the starting line-up on the day due to Ian Bennett's injury. The ball ended up being crossed into the box, but winger Williamson could only find the outside of the side netting with his effort from a very acute angle.

The Blades seem buoyed by that chance and soon forced their own corner, but Danny Ward defended it well at the back post.

A crunching midfield tackle from Miller soon sent the momentum in Town's favour, with the loose ball falling to Damien Johnson. The Northern Irishman found Lee Novak with a great ball forward, but just as the striker stepped infield he was tackled expertly by centre back Harry Maguire.

Smithies had been called into action to punch the ball away on a few occasions in the early stages and it will have done his confidence the world of good when he emerged through a crowd of players to collect hanging free-kick into the box from Lowton in the 20th minute.

Ward and Higginbotham soon switched wings and to good effect, with the former finding the head of the latter with a 27th minute cross; unfortunately for the Terriers, Neill Collins got in to clear the ball ahead of Town's strikers.

Danny was providing Smithies with a good out-ball down the Town left, consistently faring well against Williamson and Lowton in the air. However, neither side could seriously test the other's goalkeeper in a fairly cagey half hour.

United left back Hill got forward to try his luck with a drive from the edge of the box with eight minutes of the half remaining as the Blades enjoyed a spell of territorial pressure, but in typical fashion Peter Clarke was in the right place at the right time to block the shot to safety.

Blades winger Ryan Flynn got a serious talking-to from referee Roger East moments later for a poor challenge on Jack Hunt as the Town full back cleared the ball up the line.


Hunt was ok after a short pause and was soon back on the attack. The Club's Young Player of the Year drove in from the right flank with determination, skipping two challenges to create a shooting chance on his left foot; unfortunately, he couldn't repeat his heroics at stadiummk recently - this time he pulled his shot well wide.

Jack and Kallum had shown how effectively they could combine in the semi-finals and some of their passing interchanges were looking promising.

Jordan Rhodes had been on the periphery of the game in the first half and the prolific striker wasted a good chance on the break in first half added time when he overran his dribble down the right - a shame after such good work from Higginbotham to create the opening.

Referee Mr East then drew a very cagey first half to a close - one devoid of any clear-cut opportunities. Hunt, Higginbotham and Ward were Town's main attacking threats but the final ball was not finding the front two, whereas at the other end the physicality of striker Richard Cresswell was keeping Peter Clarke and Sean Morrison honest.


Neither manager made any changes during the interval and Town kicked off to start the second 45 minutes and almost immediately the best chance of the game came through Danny Ward. The winger - back on the left for the second period - picked up a second ball 25 yards from goal after Calum Woods' cross was headed clear by Maguire and steadied himself before taking aim - hitting the corner of crossbar and post with a superb right-footed shot. The 'keeper was beaten, but unfortunately the ball ricocheted to safety.

United fought back and forced a corner in front of their own fans that Town defended once again, but the second corner heralded more success for the South Yorkshiremen - although big defender Maguire headed Quinn's delivery well wide.

Higginbotham soon won his side a free kick down the right after forcing Hill to trip him, but Danny Ward's set-piece was just too long for its intended back post target Sean Morrison.

The impressive former Falkirk man soon won his side a corner just after the hour mark; he took the left-sided set piece himself and although Peter Clarke got above his marker Cresswell, he headed the ball into the outside of the side netting.

BOOKING - Sadly Kallum then picked up the first yellow card of the Final in the 62nd minute after flattening right back Matthew Lowton.

Town continued to press and only a superb defensive header from a centre half prevented one of either Novak or Ward heading home a superb Hunt cross.


An excellent interception from Woods in his own area then set Town away on a dangerous break from a United corner. The clearance fell to Rhodes, who waited before firing a cross-field pass to Higginbotham - but his very ambitious left foot volley went well wide and earned him a scorning from Lee Novak, who had covered the entire length of the pitch to get up in support.

Quinn soon went up the other end and drove a cross-come-shot tamely wide at the other end as the tie began to open up and the same man - playing just off main striker Cresswell - went closer in the 77th minute, playing a smart one-two with Lowton to find space on the edge of the box, but eventually firing just wide.

SUB - Simon Grayson made his first substitution in the 79th minute, with Gary Roberts replacing Higginbotham.

Town went agonisingly close to scoring through another corner - this time delivered by Ward from the right. Peter Clarke got his head to the ball and when his initial effort was blocked, Tommy Miller slid the ball towards goal - only for Nick Montgomery to clear it off the line.

The following corner saw Town go just as close, with another towering Clarke header pushed away strongly by 'keeper Simonsen. Novak kept the ball alive and eventually found Danny Ward, but his clipped cross was nodded agonisingly wide of the far post by the usually clinical Rhodes.


SUB - UnitedreplacedCresswell with Chris Porter in the 85th minute.

New boy Porter headed wide before Novak snatched at a shooting chance 25 yards out, but Town continued to pressure - sending big Sean Morrison forward for his first giant throw-in of the game with two minutes left. However, Simonsen did very well to claim the ball when under pressure.

Substitute Robbo's claims for a penalty in the early moments of added time fell on deaf ears as Town continued to push for a dramatic late winner, but referee East soon blew the whistle to indicate we'd be playing another half an hour!


After a short drinks interval the 30 minutes of extra time got underway.

Novak and the impeccable Damien Johnson were showing incredible energy reserves so late in the game to cover the grass, but United were fighting back after Town's strong finish to normal time and it took a superb block from Woods to deny Chris Porter what looked like a certain headed goal four minutes in.

Peter Clarke then produced a superb sprawling block to deny Quinn a good volleyed chance.

SUB - Simon Grayson made his second substitution in the 8th minute of added time, with big Alan Lee replacing Danny Ward. This change saw Roberts move to the left flank, with Novak on the right and Lee up front with Rhodes.

Every single Town player was putting in a tremendous shift and new sub Lee soon won his teammates a free-kick after he went down under a challenge in the air from left back Hill. Gary Roberts sent the free kick into the area, but once again it was just too long for Morrison at the back stick.

Quinn then went on an enterprising run from Town's right hand corner, eventually driving a shot towards goal that Smithies turned away well.

BOOKING - Harry Maguire was then shown a yellow card for dragging Jordan Rhodes to the floor by his shirt.


Both teams were still searching for the crucial breakthrough in the final 15 minutes, with Town now having the option of going a bit longer if necessary due to Lee's presence.

SUB - Danny Wilson introduced Bolton loanee Michael O'Halloran in place of Ryan Flynn in the 18th minute of extra time.

Upon the restart Hunt found Roberts with a quickly taken throw-in and the winger did very well to roll past Quinn. His clever reverse ball found Alan Lee in the area and Simonsen pulled off a great save to deny the big Irishman's first time snapshot.

Town looked to have won it in the 112th minute after Rhodes won his side a free-kick down the right side. Roberts stepped up again and Peter Clarke got his head to the ball, but just as it looked like Rhodes would nod the ball home inside the six yard box a Blades defender managed to hook the ball clear.

BOOKING - Damien Johnson was then booked for bringing down Chris Porter as the Blades tried to break. Thankfully, Lee Williamson hit the free kick straight at Smithies.

SUB - Simon Grayson made his final substitution in the 116th minute with Lee Novak replaced on the wing by Scott Arfield.

SUB - Danny Wilson made his final change of the game in injury time with Andy Taylor replacing Nick Montomery.

Neither team failed to make a break through and a place in the Championship would be decided by penatlies!


Penalty 1 (Town): Tommy Miller saved

Penalty 2 (United): Lee Williamson saved

Penalty 3 (Town): Damien Johnson missed

Penalty 4 (United): Neill Collins scored

Penalty 5 (Town): Alan Lee missed

Penalty 6 (United): Matt Lowton missed

Penalty 7 (Town): Peter Clarke scored

Penalty 8 (United): Andy Taylor missed

Penalty 9 (Town): Scott Arfield scored

Penalty 10 (United): Chris Porter scored

Penalty 11 (Town): Jordan Rhodes scored

Penalty 12 (United): Stephen Quinn scored

Penalty 13 (Town): Gary Roberts scored

Penalty 14 (United): Harry Maguire scored

Penalty 15 (Town): Calum Woods scored

Penalty 16 (United): Kevin Doyle scored

Penalty 17 (Town): Jack Hunt scored

Penalty 18 (United): Michael O'Halloran scored

Penalty 19 (Town): Sean Morrison scored

Penalty 20 (United): Matt Hill scored

Penalty 21 (Town): Alex Smithies scored

Penalty 22 (United): Steve Simonsen missed

Town are in the Championship!

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

Alex Smithies; Calum Woods, Peter Clarke (c), Sean Morrison, Jack Hunt; Danny Ward (Alan Lee 98), Tommy Miller, Damien Johnson, Kallum Higginbotham (Gary Roberts 79); Lee Novak (Scott Arfield 116), Jordan Rhodes

Unused subs: Nick Colgan, Tom Clarke

Town bookings: Kallum Higginbotham (62); Damien Johnson (112)

Sheff Utd booking: Harry Maguire (105)

Attendance: 52,100

    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.