2012 Football League One play-off Final
|Event||2011–12 Football League One|
|Huddersfield won 8–7 on penalties|
|Date||26 May 2012|
|Venue||Wembley Stadium, London|
|Man of the Match||Peter Clarke (Huddersfield)|
|Weather||Sunny and warm|
The 2012 Football League One play-off final was a football match contested by two Football League One sides, Sheffield United and Huddersfield Town. The game was played on 26 May 2012 at Wembley Stadium to decide the third team to be promoted from League One to the Championship for the 2012–13 season.
Under League One play-off rules, the final is contested by the two teams which secured an aggregate victory over the two-legged semi-finals contested between the teams finishing between third and sixth in the league table. The game itself ended in a 0–0 draw after extra time, with Huddersfield Town going on to win 8–7 on penalties.
Route to the final
The two-legged semi-finals determined the competitors in the final.
11 May 2012
12 May 2012
|Milton Keynes Dons||0–2||Huddersfield Town|
14 May 2012
Sheffield United won 1–0 on aggregate.
15 May 2012
|Huddersfield Town||1–2||Milton Keynes Dons|
|Rhodes 18'||Report||Powell 39'
Huddersfield Town won 3–2 on aggregate.
This match was Huddersfield Town's fourth play-off final, their previous three coming in 1995 (a 2–1 win over Bristol Rovers), 2004 (a 4–1 penalty shoot-out win over Mansfield Town) and 2011 (a 3–0 loss to Peterborough United), and completed their eighth Football League play-off campaign. It was their first ever visit to the renovated Wembley Stadium. Manager Simon Grayson had previously achieved promotion success as a manager from the Football League One play-offs with Blackpool in the 2007 final.
The previous encounters between the two sides in the 2011–12 Football League One season ended in an away victory in both matches, Huddersfield taking a 3–0 victory away at Bramall Lane with goals from Oscar Gobern and a brace from Lee Novak, and Sheffield United winning 1–0 away at the Galpharm Stadium thanks to a Neill Collins goal.
Huddersfield's biggest injury doubt was that of goalkeeper Ian Bennett, who injured his hand during the semi-final second leg against Milton Keynes Dons, with Alex Smithies on standby as his replacement. Scott Arfield had recovered from the ankle injury that forced him off in the semi-final first leg and later forced him to miss the home tie.
Sheffield United's Kevin McDonald picked up a hamstring injury in their 1–0 win in the semi-final second leg, and missed the final. Richard Cresswell had recovered from an eye infection that caused him to miss the previous game, and looked set to feature in the final.
The game was a cagey affair, with Huddersfield creating the most chances. In the first minute of the second half, Town winger Danny Ward hit the angle of the crossbar with a right-footed shot. Later, Harry Maguire headed wide from Stephen Quinn's corner, before Town captain Peter Clarke responded, heading Kallum Higginbotham's corner wide.
Blades keeper Steve Simonsen made vital contributions to the side, saving two further headers from Clarke, while Michael Doyle cleared Tommy Miller's follow-up effort off the line to preserve the clean sheet.
In extra time, Clarke came to Huddersfield's rescue in his own penalty area, blocking Stephen Quinn's drive in the 98th minute. Town substitute Alan Lee then failed to score with an angled shot, Simonsen saving in the 109th minute to see the tie through to penalties.
The penalties were taken at the west end of the stadium, in front of the Huddersfield Town fans. Huddersfield were the first team to walk up to the spot, but missed their first three penalties. However, the score was 2–2 after the first five penalties, taking the shoot-out to sudden death. Each side scored their next five penalties, leaving goalkeeper Alex Smithies to be the last of the 11 Huddersfield players to take a penalty. He scored. Sheffield United's last penalty also fell to their goalkeeper Steve Simonsen. Simonsen fired his spot-kick over the bar, securing an 8–7 penalty shoot-out victory for Huddersfield Town in a contest that had all 22 players on the field taking a penalty.
26 May 2012
|Huddersfield Town||0–0 (a.e.t.)||Sheffield United|
Man of the Match:
|Huddersfield Town||Sheffield United|
|Shots on target||5||7|
Source: BBC Sport
- "Match Official Appointments". Football League. 14 May 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
- Begley, Emlyn (26 May 2012). "Huddersfield have been promoted". BBC Sport. British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
- "Sheff Utd 1-0 Stevenage". BBC Sport. 14 May 2012. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
- "npower League 1 Play-Off semi-final first leg preview". football-league.co.uk. 11 May 2012. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
- "Sheffield United vs. Huddersfield Town". sheffieldunited-mad.co.uk. 25 May 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
- "Preview: Championship Place at Stake". Vitalfootball.co.uk. 25 May 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
- "SHEFF UTD: PRE-MATCH ANALYSIS". htafc.com. 25 May 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
- "Huddersfield seal dramatic shoot-out win". UKPA. 26 May 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2012.