The Championship play-off semi-final between Luton Town and Huddersfield Town remains in the balance after the two sides fought out a 1-1 first-leg draw at a bouncing Kenilworth Road on Friday.
10,005 fans turned up for tonight’s tie and although it was a buoyant atmosphere, there was a palpable tension in the air throughout a game of two completely different halves; one pulsating, the other dreadfully dull.
Huddersfield were denied a penalty inside the first minute when Harry Toffolo was nudged over in the box by James Bree but referee Robert Jones simply told the defender to get back up. Huddersfield broke the deadlock soon after though through Danel Sinani. Danny Ward combined well with Toffolo to set up the Norwich City loanee, who fired home with a fine low strike inside the near post.
The Hatters were back on level footing on the half hour mark courtesy of Sonny Bradley. Huddersfield gave away a cheap free-kick, giving Kal Naismith the chance to send a cross from the left into the path of the centre back waiting in the box, who finished well for his third goal of the season.
Luton Town are level in their Sky Bet Championship play-off semi-final with Huddersfield! 🎩
The momentum of the tie began to shift in Nathan Jones’ side’s favour and they looked to have won a penalty. Cameron Jerome was bundled over by Naby Sarr but Jones once again dubiously waved away any appeals. The veteran striker then came close when he found some space to shoot from the edge of the box after cutting in from the left, but his bending effort went just over the bar.
After an entertaining first-half, the tempo dropped considerably after the break with chances for either side few and far between. The visitors dominated much more of the possession but failed to do anything with it.
These two meet again at the John Smith’s Stadium on Monday, and although the tie remains finely poised, history might side with Carlos Coberan’s men. This is just Luton’s third appearance, having lost in the semi-final at both previous attempts.
Speaking after the match, Huddersfield midfield and Man of the Match Duane Holmes told Sky Sports: "It's a game of two legs and we're going back to our place now. We're disappointed with the goal we've conceded, but that's football and we'll dust ourselves off and go again on Monday.
"On first look it definitely looked a penalty [on Toffolo]. The kick-off was something we worked on all week, but saying that they should have had one when Jerome got brought down. I think the referee may not have given that one because he didn't give our one.
"But all season we've had a game by game mentality, and it's got us to where we are. We go again."
Tomorrow sees the Championship’s second play-off semi-final, a blockbuster showdown between Sheffield United and Nottingham Forest which kicks off at 3pm.
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