Missed chances prove costly for Wells
Huddersfield Town were left to rue missed opportunities after they drew the first leg of their Sky Bet Championship play-off semi-final 0-0 with Sheffield Wednesday yesterday.
Town controlled the first half and nearly took the lead when Izzy Brown’s miscued effort grazed the crossbar.
Wednesday goalkeeper Keiren Westwood saved well from Nahki Wells’s chip before Adam Reach shot wide for the visiting side.
Westwood then saved brilliantly from Wells to leave the tie perfectly poised going into Wednesday’s second leg.
Huddersfield went into the game looking to end a seven-match winless streak against Wednesday and the visiting side struggled to cope with their intensity in the opening exchanges. For all Town’s dominance, Wednesday, who conceded just 45 league goals in 46 games, managed to limit their meaningful first-half chances to Brown’s effort.
The Chelsea loanee could not quite sort his feet after Wednesday failed to clear Chris Lowe’s deflected cross and his shot flicked the top of the bar on its way over.
The second half followed the pattern of the first with David Wagner’s side enjoying the lion’s share of possession but, thanks in no small part to smart work from Westwood, they could not find a breakthrough.
Yesterdays’ stalemate means Wednesday are unbeaten in eight matches against their Yorkshire rivals, dating back to November 2013.
Although they created little with no shots on target, manager Carlos Carvalhal will be pleased with how his side soaked up the pressure and kept their positional discipline throughout.
Wednesday have now kept four successive clean sheets against Huddersfield and if they extend that run to five in midweek then they are likely to find themselves heading to Wembley Stadium for a second successive season. The winner of the tie will play either Reading or Fulham, who drew Saturday’s first leg 1-1, in the final on Monday, 29 May.
• Carlisle United scored twice in two second-half minutes to salvage a 3-3 draw at home to Exeter City in a frenetic League Two play-off semi-final first leg yesterday.
Joel Grant headed Exeter in front but defender Jordan Moore-Taylor turned a cross into his own net as Carlisle levelled.
Goals either side of the break had Exeter in control, midfielder Ryan Harley stroking home and winger David Wheeler finding the net. But John O’Sullivan’s overhit cross floated in and substitute striker Shaun Miller nodded in as the home side dramatically came back.
Reggie Lambe, the Bermuda winger, played the full 90 minutes for Carlisle
Exeter had two goals disallowed for borderline offside calls, and hit the post through midfielder Jake Taylor with the final action of the match.
Keith Curle’s Carlisle have trailed in all three games between the sides this season but are yet to be beaten by the Devon club.
Jamaica striker Grant was influential with two assists to add to his goal, but Exeter are still yet to beat any of their play-off rivals this season.
Carlisle had a penalty appeal waved away in stoppage time after defender Pierce Sweeney controlled Nicky Adams’s cross onto his arm.
Only Plymouth had a better away record in the regular-season than Paul Tisdale’s Exeter, who will feel frustrated by the offside flag denying both Ollie Watkins and Reuben Reid when they appeared to be level with the last defender.
The second leg takes place at St James Park on Thursday.
Curle said: “The players deserve a lot of credit for the character they have shown. They were challenged today, they were challenged at 3-1 down and a goal having just been disallowed as well.
Mark Cullen scored a hat-trick as Blackpool beat Luton Town 3-2 in their League Two play-off semi-final first leg yesterday.
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