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REPORT: TOWN U21s LOSE CUP SEMI ON PENS

15 March 2016

Young Terriers fall at the final four

- Terriers knocked out of Premier League Cup by Hull City
- Game finished 0-0 after 120 minutes of action
- Tigers win 4-3 on penalties

Huddersfield Town Under-21s were knocked out of the Premier League Cup at the semi-final stage on penalties to Hull City after a goalless 120 minutes of action at the John Smith’s Stadium tonight.

The Terriers could’ve faced Liverpool or West Ham in the final of the competition and did have chances aplenty to come out victorious from the contest, but it wasn’t to be as the Humberside outfit secured victory on spot-kicks.

Regan Booty missed the final penalty heartbreakingly to hand the visitors a 4-3 win, with Duane Holmes also hitting the post from 12 yards with the opening effort.

Senior Professional Development Coach Frankie Bunn named Flo Bojaj in his starting line-up, who was in David Wagner’s First Team squad for the visit of Burnley on Saturday and scored his first ever professional goal against Reading seven days ago.

Meanwhile, Holmes and Regan Booty returned to the Under-21s after recent involvement in the senior squad.

Lloyd Allinson was called into action early on when Johan Ter Horst was threaded through on goal, but the Terriers’ goalkeeper made himself big to make a point-blank save from the low effort.

William Boyle is on a youth loan at York City from Huddersfield, although he’s allowed back to participate for the Under-21s. He was next to have an opportunity when Holmes swung a superb corner in, but he couldn’t direct his header towards goal.

The chances were evenly matched as the game progressed, with many attacking moves being broken down with a stray pass. Hull, who currently sit third in the Professional Development League Two table, looked to have good pace on the counter and that was the route of their next chance.

When a Town move broke down, the Tigers broke clear with an incisive move before the ball was played in behind for Ter Horst who fired inches over Allinson’s crossbar.

Jarrod Bowen nearly caught the Town ‘keeper out with an unexpected attempt from just outside the penalty area, but Allinson watched it warily over his upright again.

Soon after, Bojaj intricately fed Jake Charles who quickly got a shot away but Rory Watson closed down the Welsh youth international and made the stop.

Bowen was a proving a useful threat for the visitors and he picked up a pocket of space 25 yards out and unleashed a strike, which flew over the bar.

However, Town were looking dangerous in attack themselves. Lewis O’Brien, who notched his first goal for Bunn’s side a week ago against Barnsley late on, was lively in the attacking third and cut in from the right-hand side, but his curler was from the edge of the box was saved by the diving Watson.

Despite frequent forays forward from both teams heading towards the interval, neither could quite break through the defence in what was proving to be a tight encounter.

Similarly to the first period, Allinson was needed to rescue the Terriers in the opening stages. Robbie McKenzie made a purposeful run through the heart of Town’s midfield and got a shot away which the overage goalkeeper palmed away.

Greg Olley then had a fierce drive from distance for the away side, but it was wayward and arrowed away from goal. Max Clark, who has previous against Huddersfield after netting a wonder-strike earlier on in the campaign, could’ve replicated his heroics but it went harmlessly over.

The two clubs had played each other two times before the night’s contest, with one win each. And the similarities were there to be seen, and Hull came excruciatingly close to taking the lead. Centre back Harvey Rodgers made his way forward and tried to place it into the net, but Allinson guessed the right way to make a smart save.

Holmes, who was an energetic livewire in the Terriers’ midfield found himself on the left side, and whipped in a fine cross which looked destined for the head of an oncoming runner, but it was tipped away from wide.

Rekeil Pyke grabbed the winning goal at the John Smith’s Stadium just under a fortnight ago against Birmingham City, and he was introduced just before the hour mark in place of O’Brien. Subsequently, Bojaj moved to play just behind the striker while Ronan Coughlan went to the right of midfield.

Set-pieces from Town were a constantly causing problems and Booty stepped up to take a free-kick 25 yards out menacingly but Watson claimed it low at the second attempt. And the midfielder was involved again as he delivered a great cross for Danny Kane from a corner, but it evaded the crossbar.

Moments later, Tony Pennock’s Hull side nearly made the most of a free-kick themselves, but McKenzie mis-directed it onto the roof of the net.

A noisy atmosphere was being created by the impressive 927 Town supporters inside the John Smith’s Stadium, who were deserving of a reward on a chilly evening in West Yorkshire.

Pyke’s physicality and overall presence up top was an attribute that Huddersfield needed as time ticked on towards full-time with legs tiring, and he fired goal-wards from 20 yards but Watson held comfortably.

Neither side could find the winner in the 90 minutes and the tie went into extra-time. Coming into the match, Town had only failed to score in one other game at home this season, against Nottingham Forest all the way back in August.

Allinson had to be alert to ensure he kept the score-line level when Bowen powerfully struck one, but the goalkeeper’s hand remained strong to halt its progress into the corner.

On the stroke of half-time in extra time, substitute Jamie Spencer pounced on a loose ball but skewed his effort well wide of the mark. And that epitomised the game as a whole, as Kane was next to latch onto an opportunity from a corner but it fizzed over the bar.

Bunn made his third and final change as Jack Boyle came on to replace Bojaj who had put in an admirable shift. All that was missing from both the Tigers and Huddersfield was the final finish – they couldn’t be separated after 120 minutes, and it went to penalties.

Jack Boyle, Pyke and Coughlan tucked away their penalties for Town, but Holmes and Booty hit the post and shot over respectively meaning Town were knocked out.

Highlights of the game will appear on HTTV on Wednesday.

Town’s team (4-2-3-1):
Lloyd Allinson; Jack Senior, William Boyle (c), Danny Kane, Jacob Hanson; Regan Booty, Duane Holmes; Jake Charles (Jamie Spencer 101’), Ronan Coughlan, Lewis O’Brien (Rekeil Pyke 57’); Flo Bojaj (Jack Boyle, 107’)

Subs not used:
Jack Boyle, Ryan Schofield, Joe Wilkinson

Attendance: 927

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