Bradley on target as Hatters and Terriers can't be separated in first leg

Championship play-off semi-final first leg: Luton Town 1 Huddersfield Town 1

By Mike Simmonds
Friday, 13th May 2022, 10:20 pm
Updated Saturday, 14th May 2022, 11:02 am
Sonny Bradley wheels away after making it 1-1 against Huddersfield this evening
Sonny Bradley wheels away after making it 1-1 against Huddersfield this evening

Luton and Huddersfield couldn't be separated in their Championship play-off semi-final first leg encounter at Kenilworth Road this evening.

An open first half saw Danel Sinani's early goal cancelled out by skipper Sonny Bradley, scoring yet again in front of the Sky TV cameras, before the Terriers had the better of a cautious second period, Town defending valiantly to ensure they head to Yorkshire on Monday all square.

The Hatters went with an unchanged side from their 1-0 win over Reading last weekend meaning that top scorer Elijah Adebayo wasn't included once more, although on the bench Peter Kioso came in for Admiral Muskwe.

Town almost got off to the worst start possible inside 15 seconds when a dangerous cross from the right saw Harry Toffolo impeded by James Bree as he went to score, only for referee Rob Jones to wave away the appeals, possibly due to the early nature of the incident.

Bree was then involved at the other end moments later, released by Jordan Clark, his fizzing drive touched over the top by Lee Nicholls.

Despite making the early running, Luton found themselves behind on 12 minutes when an attack broke down and with Kal Naismith slipping, Toffolo released Sinani on the right, and with Bradley unable to get across and close him down, was able to drill low past Ingram, who will be disappointed to be beaten at his near post.

The Terriers went close again moments later, Danny Ward escaping his Town markers, but this time Bradley was alert to cover and get a crucial block in.

Huddersfield's early goal definitely quietened the noisy home crowd as with the visitors deploying one of the lowest blocks seen, Luton struggled to find an answer to the puzzle they were posed.

They worked it out on 31 minutes though as a quite magnificent free kick from the left was whipped in with unerring accuracy by Naismith and there was Bradley of all people to meet it on the volley with his right foot, Nicholls getting a hand to the shot, unable to keep it out

With the life breathed back into the crowd, Town went looking for second, and might have had it, Jerome bursting through and although dallied in getting his shot away, was also being dragged down by Sarr, but with the Luton bench and players going ballistic in their demands for penalty, referee Jones, as he had at the other end, gave nothing.

Jerome then went on his own from 25 yards, bending a shot narrowly over which would have brought the house down, but the Terriers quickly disbanded their defensive tactics, as Sinani's inviting cross was flicked on by Ward, Ingram ungainly using his body to shovel away.

Back came Luton as the game opened up, Jerome doing well to roll the ball into the path of Henri Lansbury who looked destined to make it 2-1, only for the imposing figure of Sarr to get his body in the way.

After the break, chances were harder to come by, Clark's speculative but ultimately wayward volley on the hour mark after the ball up nicely for him, the only moment of note for Town.

The hosts were forced into a change on 67 minutes, Lansbury going off after appearing to injure himself and Tom Lockyer on, meaning Naismith moved out of the back three and into midfield.

Huddersfield also made an alteration, experienced forward Jordan Rhodes on for top scorer Ward as the visitors began to take a stranglehold on the game, penning Luton in their own half with long spells of possession, but couldn't take advantage of a number of set-piece opportunities.

After appearing to weather a lengthy period of pressure, Luton were thankful to Reece Burke for getting back to block Lewis O'Brien after an incisive run straight through the middle of the pitch by Duane Holmes.

Clark tried his luck again from range, never testing Nicholls, while with five minutes to go, Naismith sent over another cross that Lockyer got too much on, steering over.

Late on Pipa's drive cannoned against two defenders and could have gone anywhere, although fortunately for Luton, it rebounded behind for a corner.

Four minutes of stoppage time came and went, as both sides will now do it all again at the John Smith's Stadium on Monday evening.

Hatters: Matt Ingram, James Bree, Reece Burke (Danny Hylton 80), Sonny Bradley ©, Kal Nasmith, Amari'i Bell, Henri Lansbury (Tom Lockyer 67), Allan Campbell, Jordan Clark, Cameron Jerome (Robert Snodgrass 89), Harry Cornick.

Subs not used: Harry Isted, Dan Potts, Carlos Mendes Gomes, Peter Kios.

Terriers: Lee Nicholls, Harry Toffolo, Jonathan Hogg ©, Lewis O'Brien, Duane Holmes, Ollie Turton (Pipa 46), Naby Sarr, Danel Sinani (Sorba Thomas 85), Danny Ward (Jordan Rhodes 72), Tom Lees, Jon Russell.

Subs not used: Tino Anjorin, Jamal Blackman, Levi Colwill, Carel Eiting.

Bookings: Naismith 57, Rhodes 90.

Referee: Robert Jones.

Attendance: 10,005 (1,014 Terriers).