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Thursday, September 29, 2022

Luton v Huddersfield: Championship playoff semi-final, first leg – live! | Championship

9 min: Luton goalkeeper Matt Ingram sends the ball long and his side end up winning a corner after good hold-up play from Cameron Jerome and a driving run from Jordan Clark.

7 min: Harry Cornick hares down the right touchline for Luton and tries to sling a cross into the penalty area. Naby Sarr blocks. After an extremely shaky opening eight seconds, Luton are very much in the ascendency.

5 min: Luton win a free-kick about 35 yards, possibly more from the Huddersfield goal. It’s a long way out but Henri Lansbury tries his luck nonetheless. His effort is blocked.

3 min: We’re off to a ripsnorting start here, with Huddersfield goalkeeper Lee Nicholls being forced to tip a Ollie Turton shot from distance over his crossbar. From the corner, Nicholls punches the inswinger out for a throw-in.

2 min: I’ll tell you what, Huddersfield were robbed, there – Toffolo was clearly shoved off the ball illegally after eight seconds by Bree and should have got a penalty. Remember, there’s no VAR in this game.

Luton v Huddersfield is go …

1 min: Huddersfield get the ball rolling with both teams lining up in a 3-5-2. Luton wear their customary orange shirts with black shorts and orange socks. Huddersfield wear blue and white stripes, white shirts and black socks. There’s an extremely early appeal for a penalty as Huddersfield’s Harry Toffolo is barged off the ball on the right side of the Luton penalty area by James Bree.

Not long now: It’s a sunny night in Bedfordshire (for now), where the stands are packed. There’s a sizeable contingent fropm Huddersifeild in Kenilworth Road. The teams are lined up in the narrow tunnel, with barely breathing room between them. Out on to the pitch they go …

Danny Ward
Huddersfield striker Danny Ward arrives at Kenilworth Road. Photograph: John Early/Getty Images

Luton Town v Huddersfield Town line-ups

Luton: Ingram, Burke, Bradley, Naismith, Lansbury, Bree, Bell, Campbell, Clark, Jerome, Cornick.

Subs: Potts, Hylton, Snodgrass, Mendes Gomes, Lockyer, Kioso, Isted.

Huddersfield: Nicholls, Lees, Hogg, Sarr, Turton, Holmes, O’Brien, Russell, Toffolo, Sinani, Ward.

Subs: Pipa, Anjorin, Rhodes, Thomas, Blackman, Colwill, Eiting.

Referee: Robert Jones (Merseyside)

Kenilworth Road
The entrance to the Eric Morecambe Suite (right) at Kenilworth ROad. Photograph: Michael Zemanek/REX/Shutterstock
Luton v Huddersfield
A Hudddersfield Town fan makes his way through the streets around Kenilworth Road. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA

Tonight’s match officials

Referee: Robert Jones

Referee’s assistants: Ian Hussin and Wade Smith

Fourth Official: Simon Hooper

A reminder: There is no VAR in the Championship and away goals scored in playoff semi-finals do not count for extra.

Robert Jones
Robert Jones, seen here refereeing Norwich City’s defeat at the hands of West Ham at Carrow Road last weekend, is in charge of tonight’s game at Kenilworth Road. Photograph: Shaun Brooks/Action Plus/REX/Shutterstock

Early team news

Huddersfield boss Carlos Corberan is hopeful that central midfielder Lewis O’Brien is fit enough to start after recovering from an abdominal issue that kept him out of the Terriers’ win over Bristol City at the weekend, but has ruled out starts for winger Sorba Thomas and centre-back Matty Pearson, who have not got enough running into their legs after recovering from knee injuries but may feature off the bench if required. A former Luton player, Pearson has not featured for his side since March.

Luton manager Nathan Jones has endured a recent injury crisis in his squad but was able to summon James Bree, Allan Campbell, Harry Cornick and Sonny Bradley from the treatment room for last weekend’s win over Reading. This weekend, he is hopeful his side’s top scorer Elijah Adebayo could play some part tonight after returning from a hamstring injury that has kept him sidelined for the past three weeks. Three times a promotion winner with Luton already, midfielder Pelly Ruddock-Mpanzu has been ruled out.

Luton v Reading
Harry Cornick of Luton Town (background No7) celebrates scoring an extremely audacious and opportunistic goal for Luton against Reading on his return from injury last weekend. Photograph: Joe Toth/REX/Shutterstock

Championship playoff: Luton v Huddersfield

The first of the playoff semi-finals gets under way tonight in the hostile but dilapidated environs of Kenilworth Road. While Luton Town have plans to build their own bijoux new 23,000-capacity stadium at Power Court, it seems almost unthinkable that their current ground could be staging top flight matches for the first time since 1992-93 next season, but the team that calls it home are just three games away from promotion.

It would be a quite astonishing achievement for a team that was playing non-league football as recently as 2014 and who operate on a miniscule budget compared to all bar one of their Championship rivals. Blackpool, seeing as you asked so nicely.

To make the Wembley final, they will have to overcome a Huddersfield side who have also punched well above their weight this season, with a mid-table squad budget of £17m (hat-tip: @Kieran McGuire from the Price of Football podcast), a sum that nevertheless dwarfs that of Luton, whose entire squad cost a mere £3.5m.

With the second leg in Yorkshire to come on Monday and the winners due to face Sheffield United or Nottingham Forest, kick-off this evening is at 7.45pm. Stay tuned in the meantime for team news and build-up.

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