Sheffield Wednesday 1, Huddersfield 1: More play-off heartache for Owls as Terriers reach Wembley on penalties

Fernando Forestieri penalty miss joy for keeper Danny Ward....Pic Steve Ellis
Fernando Forestieri penalty miss joy for keeper Danny Ward....Pic Steve Ellis
0
Have your say

So close yet so far away.

For the second year running, the Owls have fallen short in the play-offs.

Despair for Carlos Carvalhal....Pic Steve Ellis

Despair for Carlos Carvalhal....Pic Steve Ellis

Their dream was ended in the cruelest of fashions.

After a pulsating Yorkshire derby, it needed a penalty shoot-out to separate Wednesday and Huddersfield Town.

Chris Lowe, Michael Hefele, Nahki Wells, Aaron Mooy converted from 12 yards for the Terriers, with Sam Hutchinson denied by Danny Ward. Barry Bannan, Kieran Lee and Jack Hunt fired home for the Owls.

Keiren Westwood came to the rescue for Wednesday, keeping out Jack Payne’s fifth spot kick.

Steven Fletcher had earlier put the Owls ahead...Pic Steve Ellis

Steven Fletcher had earlier put the Owls ahead...Pic Steve Ellis

But Fernando Forestieri, so often the scourge of Huddersfield, couldn’t make it all square, with Ward guessing the right way to send the West Yorkshire club to Wembley.

The Owls looked on course to make it through to the Championship Play-Off final when Steven Fletcher headed them in front. However, an own goal by Tom Lees ensured it went into extra time.

Head coach Carlos Carvalhal made one tactical change, bringing Hutchinson into midfield for Adam Reach. Hutchinson was paired with Kieran Lee in the centre.

It was a welcome boost for Wednesday having Hutchinson available for selection. The tough-tackling midfielder sat-out the first leg because of a knee injury.

The Owls suffered a blow in the early stages as Ross Wallace, who scored in both legs of last season’s semi-final triumph over Brighton and Hove Albion, tweaked his hamstring and had to be taken off.

Wallaced looked distraught as he trudged off the pitch and was replaced by Reach. Barry Bannan switched from the left to the right wing to accommodate Reach.

With so much at stake, you could feel the nerves and tension at a raucous S6. Promotion to the top-flight would be worth up to £170m.

Both sides cancelled each other and there was little goalmouth action.

It took until the 19th minute for either goalkeeper to be tested.

Ward, brought in for Joel Coleman having completed a one-match suspension, produced a smart save to deny Reach’s fierce drive. Steven Fletcher was flagged off-side on the follow up.

Hutchinson underlined his combative qualities by flying into a number of tackles and was rightly booked after a late lunge on Izzy Brown.

Chelsea loanee Brown wasted the best opening of the first period. Rajiv Van La Parra released Nahki Wells down the left flank and he whipped in a dangerous delivery which picked out Brown, who struck the outside of the post from six yards out. It was a big let off for Wednesday.

Bannan pulled the strings in midfield. His passing, energy and driving runs unsettled Huddersfield.

It was Bannan’s exquisite 40-yard pass that freed Steven Fletcher just before the half hour mark but the big striker hesitated and failed to slip in Forestieri.

Huddersfield, the lowest scorers in the Championship’s top eight, had a strong penalty shout turned away in the 38th minute when Wells appeared to be upended by Westwood but referee Andre Marriner waved play on. It was a clumsy challenge by Westwood and a big talking point.

Hogg joined Hutchinson in the book after a crude tackle on Forestieri, who was a real nuisance in attack. Wednesday’s cautious, conservative approach worked a treat in the first leg but they showed far more adventure on their own turf.

The tie desperately needed a breakthrough and Fletcher duly delivered.

Fletcher climbed above Schindler to head home Bannan’s sublime diagonal cross at the back post.

Cue pandemonium. Hillsborough erupted in a wall of noise.

The crowd were relentless in their backing, responding to the efforts of the team.

Huddersfield, though, rallied. Wells’ jinking run bamboozled Tom Lees but he sliced wide from long range.

Van La Parra’s effort was deflected wide and top-scorer Elias Kachunga also fluffed his lines following good approach play.

Wednesday struggled to retain possession and the Terriers restored parity in the 73rd minute. Substitute Collin Quaner raced on to Brown’s clever throughball and Lees, under pressure from Wells, slid in and inadvertently turned it into his own net.

The equaliser visibly lifted Huddersfield and they finished strongly.

Westood made a fine stop low to his left to turn away Wells’ rasping shot after good work again on the right by the lively Quaner.

Huddersfield finished the end of normal time in the ascendency. The hosts couldn’t get out of their own half and Westwood spread himself expertly to foil Wells after a deft pass by Mooy.

It was a stirring fightback by the visitors and the Owls were rattled. They found it difficult to contain Huddersfield’s free-flowing expansive football.

La Parra and Wells combined neatly to tee up Brown and his 40-yard piledriver was well saved by Westwood.

Out of nothing, Jordan Rhodes had two chances in quick succession in the first half of extra time to break his old club’s hearts. His first attempt was acrobatically tipped over by Ward and the Terriers shot-stopper pulled off another great reflex save to thwart the Scotland international.

Forestieri continued to threaten. He collected Rhodes’ flick on only to see his attempt brilliantly blocked by Hefele.

There were a of tired bodies and minds in the second period of extra time, but that didn’t stop Wednesday fans from making their voices heard.

Wells fired into the side-netting when well-placed while Rhodes nipped in at the near post to head narrowly wide at the other end after a delightful cross by Hutchinson.

Ultimately, Liverpool loanee Ward was the hero for Huddersfield in the shoot-out as the Owls are left to contemplate another season in the second tier.

Owls: Westwood; Hunt, Lees, Loovens, Pudil (Nuhiu 117); Wallace (Reach 5), Lee, Hutchinson, Bannan; Forestieri, Fletcher (Rhodes 61). Substitutes: Wildsmith, Jones, Winnall, Sasso.

Huddersfield: Ward; Smith, Hefele, Schindler, Lowe; Hogg, Mooy; Kachunga (Quaner 72), Brown (Payne 97), Van La Parra (Holmes-Dennis 115); Wells. Substitutes: Coleman, Whitehead, Hudson, Cranie.

Attendance: 32,625

Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands)

Star man: Fernando Forestieri