Mon. May 23rd, 2022

Luton Town 1-1 Huddersfield: Sonny Bradley earns Hatters a draw after Danel Sinani fires visitors into an early lead on the counter-attack as the first leg of the Championship play-off semi-final finishes level at Kenilworth Road

  • Luton and Huddersfield drew in the Championship play-off semi-finals on Friday
  • Danel Sinani fired in following a ruthless Terriers counter-attack after 12 minutes
  • Sonny Bradley netted for the Hatters when he volleyed in Kai Naismith’s free-kick
  • Terriers host second leg on Monday; winners face Sheff United or Nottm Forest

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What a shame we must wait three days for these two to go at it again.

What an occasion to say goodbye to Kenilworth Road for another season. Come the end, Luton’s fanciful ambition of bringing Premier League football to these parts was still alive after this semi-final first leg ended all-square.

Luton and Huddersfield shared a mass brawl during a recent meeting. This match saw a brilliant scrap of a different kind as Huddersfield drew first blood through Danel Sinani before Sonny Bradley levelled the scores.

Visiting fans wait their turn ahead of the first fixture of the Championship play-off semi-finals

Visiting fans wait their turn ahead of the first fixture of the Championship play-off semi-finals

Visiting fans wait their turn ahead of the first fixture of the Championship play-off semi-finals

Carlos Corberan arrives at Kenilworth Road after an excellent regular season for Huddersfield

Carlos Corberan arrives at Kenilworth Road after an excellent regular season for Huddersfield

Carlos Corberan arrives at Kenilworth Road after an excellent regular season for Huddersfield

That is how it stayed, meaning Monday’s return game is brilliantly poised. After a long season spent defying the Championship’s money table, one of these two are 90 minutes from a shot at the Premier League.

Huddersfield have flirted with League One since relegation in 2019. Luton, a non-league outfit inside the last decade, last tasted the top flight in 1992.

No wonder, then, that the early pace was punishing and neither side relented for a while. Kenilworth Road creaked and crackled throughout.

Danel Sinani celebrates after slamming a shot past Matt Ingram to put Huddersfield 1-0 ahead

Danel Sinani celebrates after slamming a shot past Matt Ingram to put Huddersfield 1-0 ahead

Danel Sinani celebrates after slamming a shot past Matt Ingram to put Huddersfield 1-0 ahead

Sonny Bradley swoops to volley Kai Naismith's delivery beyond Lee Nicholls after 30 minutes

Sonny Bradley swoops to volley Kai Naismith's delivery beyond Lee Nicholls after 30 minutes

Sonny Bradley swoops to volley Kai Naismith’s delivery beyond Lee Nicholls after 30 minutes

Pity poor referee Robert Jones, who looked like he needed a chance to breathe – and consult a video assistant.

Alas, VAR comes in only for the final. And so, twice during the first-half, Jones turned down penalty shouts. Twice, replays suggested he had erred. The only consolation? Both teams could feel equally hard done by.

Huddersfield were up in arms inside 10 seconds after Harry Toffolo was shoved over at the back post by James Bree.

Luton boss Nathan Jones knows his team need to improve their poor away record at top sides

Luton boss Nathan Jones knows his team need to improve their poor away record at top sides

Luton boss Nathan Jones knows his team need to improve their poor away record at top sides

Luton will not mind being the underdogs ahead of the return leg in West Yorkshire on Monday

Luton will not mind being the underdogs ahead of the return leg in West Yorkshire on Monday

Luton will not mind being the underdogs ahead of the return leg in West Yorkshire on Monday

And then, 10 minutes before half time, Naby Sarr was caught in a tangle with Cameron Jerome.

In between, these teams shared decent goals, too. Sinani fired low inside the near post before Bradley volleyed in Kal Naismith’s free-kick.

There could have been more. Danny Ward saw a header saved before Henri Lansbury was denied by a crucial block.

MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS

LUTON (3-1-4-2): Ingram 6.5; Burke 6.5 (Hylton 80, 6), Bradley 8, Naismith 7; Lansbury 7.5 (Lockyer 67, 6); Bree 5.5, Campbell 6.5, Clark 6, Bell 6.5; Cornick 6, Jerome 6.5 (Snodgrass 89, 6)

Subs not used: Potts, Mendes Gomes, Kioso, Isted

Goals: Bradley 30

Yellow: Naismith

Red: None

Manager: Nathan Jones 6.5

HUDDERSFIELD (3-4-3): Nicholls 6; Lees 6.5, Hogg 6.5, Sarr 6; Turton 6 (Pipa 45, 6), O’Brien 6.5, Russell 6, Toffolo 7; Sinani 7.5 (Thomas 85, 6), Ward 6.5 (Rhodes 71, 5.5), Holmes 6

Subs not used: Anjorin, Blackman, Colwill, Eiting

Goals: Sinani 12

Yellow: Rhodes

Red: None

Manager: Carlos Corberan 6.5

A draw suited Huddersfield more and that was evident in how they took some sting out of this game after the break.

The second half stuttered, with Luton pressing for more and Huddersfield content to counter.

Neither buckled, and so on we go. Over to you, Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United.

Sportsmail’s live blog had updates on the Championship play-off semi-final first leg between Luton and Huddersfield. 

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