TERRIERS HOLD ON TO BOOK WEMBLEY TRIP
Huddersfield Town booked a npower League 1 Play-Off final date against Sheffield United despite losing the second leg of their Play-Off semi-final 2-1 to Milton Keynes Dons, as they recorded a 3-2 aggregate victory.
The Terriers, leading 2-0 from the first leg, went ahead on the night through leading scorer Jordan Rhodes, only for Daniel Powell to level before half-time.
Although substitute Alan Smith scored with a header in injury-time, Huddersfield held on to make sure of their place at Wembley.
BLADES LEAVE IT LATE TO MAKE BREAKTHROUGH
Chris Porter's late header sent Sheffield United into the npower League 1 Play-Off final after a 1-0 semi-final victory over Stevenage.
After a goalless first leg and a similarly even first 85 minutes this time out, extra-time looked on the cards until Porter popped up at the back post to nod Matt Lowton's pinpoint cross past Chris Day.
It sent Bramall Lane wild and was a moment of personal glory for Porter, who had struggled in a lone role up front. The win was nothing less than United deserved as they were the dominant force throughout and it should have been a more resounding victory, but Ryan Flynn, Lee Williamson and Stephen Quinn were all denied.
As it was, Porter's goal was enough to secure passage to Wembley where Danny Wilson's side will meet either Huddersfield or MK Dons, who play the second leg of their semi-final on Tuesday.
There was a sense of missed opportunity for Stevenage, who finished 17 points below their hosts in the league, after the stalemate in Friday's first leg and boss Gary Smith responded by selecting Robin Shroot in place of Craig Reid, while the Blades were unchanged and looking for vengeance for the league fixture between these two sides a fortnight ago.
Wilson's side were held to a 2-2 draw, battling back from two goals down, with the result effectively costing them an automatic promotion place.
United delivered a bright start and they should have taken the lead inside the opening 10 minutes but Porter's header from Williamson's deflected pass was superbly saved by Day, with Flynn volleying the resulting corner over. The hosts continued to control possession, but they struggled to get into any more threatening positions.
Wilson's half-time team-talk will still have been ringing in United's ears by the time they created their first meaningful effort of the second period, but Flynn could not get enough purchase on his shot from 16 yards out following a poor clearance and it was blocked.
The game began to open up and Blades goalkeeper Steve Simonsen, who had been a virtual spectator, was tested for the first time when he got down to save Luke Freeman's low shot. Quinn and Williamson both fired over from distance as United's surge began to run out of steam.
As the game entered its final 10 minutes it became frantic as the hosts renewed their searched for a winner. And with extra-time looming, Porter rose highest to nod home from close range and send United to Wembley as they saw out a nerve-wracking final few minutes.
JORDAN PUTS TERRIERS ON THE RHODES TO WEMBLEY
Jordan Rhodes' 39th goal of the season helped inspire Huddersfield to a commanding 2-0 victory away to a disappointing MK Dons in the first-leg of their npower League 1 Play-Off semi-final.
The prolific marksman glanced home a 32nd minute cross from 17-goal strike partner Lee Novak, who wasted a glorious second-half chance to double the visitors' advantage at stadium:mk.
But Jack Hunt's well-taken finish ensured Town took firm control of the tie ahead of Tuesday's second leg at the Galpharm Stadium, and left the Terriers dreaming of Wembley success in what is their third successive attempt at Play-Off glory.
It was a woeful afternoon for a lacklustre Dons, who were embarking on their third Play-Off campaign in four years as they bid to make the second tier for the first time since their change of identity in 2004.
The hosts almost pulled a goal back deep into second-half stoppage time, but Town goalkeeper Ian Bennett pulled off an athletic stop from Jabo Ibehre's header.
BORO BLUNT BLADES
Shot-shy Sheffield United escaped with a goalless draw from the first leg of their npower League 1 Play-Off semi-final at Stevenage.
Boro, looking for a third successive promotion having been in the Conference just two years ago, came agonisingly close to grabbing a vital lead when Craig Reid's shot hit the crossbar.
But Danny Wilson's United should now be in the driving seat for Monday's second leg at Bramall Lane. However, the Blades' record in the play-offs will not inspire much confidence - five failures from five attempts - while they have not beaten Stevenage in three matches this season.
And having recently lost top scorer Ched Evans to a jail sentence and James Beattie through suspension, they look desperately short of firepower. Chris Porter, who has not scored in the league this year, was on his own in attack but he barely had a sniff as Boro bossed the opening stages.
Midfielder Michael Bostwick cleverly weaved his way past a couple of challenges but his attempted curler was way off target, while lively former Arsenal youngster Luke Freeman also fired high and wide.
And four minutes before the break the hosts were inches from going ahead, Reid's dipping 20-yard shot beating Blades goalkeeper Steve Simonsen but not the bar.
The visitors were cheered on by their former player, Tottenham and England defender Kyle Walker, and they responded to almost going behind by finally mustering their first attempts at goal. Stephen Quinn blazed over after his initial shot was blocked and Kevin McDonald fired wide in first-half stoppage time.
United improved in the second half and Boro keeper Chris Day was eventually called into action after an hour, comfortably dealing with Lee Williamson's low drive from outside the area.
Michael Flynn could have broken the deadlock 10 minutes later when he was put through by Matt Hill, but the winger elected to cut the ball back to no-one and the chance disappeared. Blades substitute Richard Cresswell had a deflected shot saved by Day and a late header hacked clear.
But neither side looked capable of making the breakthrough, and another nervy affair looks on the cards in three days' time with Wembley just 90 minutes away.