Preview: Championship Place at Stake
26 May 2012
HUDDERSFIELD TOWN and Sheffield united will battle it out for the last remaining place in next seasons Championship.
The Loser will suffer another season in League One and both teams will be going all out for victory in this Saturdays Play-Off Final at Wembley; 3pm kick off.
Town's appearance at Wembley is the sixth in their history and it was booked thanks to Jordan Rhodes' 40th goal of the season against the MK Dons. On the night Town lost 2-1 but progressed thanks to a 3-2 aggregate score line.
United striker Chris Porter scored his first goal in 17 games against Stevenage to send the Blades to Wembley.
Vital Quotes: Simon Grayson
We have been very relaxed this week; the atmosphere has been good. The players are very focused and it is important that they stay level-headed, but also enjoy the build-up to the Final,'
'We all know what is at stake and the players have worked hard on a few things on the training field. We have tried to play down the importance of the game, but that is a difficult thing to do. I am telling the players that it is like any other game and as a manager you have to do as much as you can to allow the players to concentrate on doing what they are good at.'
'When I experienced the Play-Offs as a player, the wait between the semi-final and the final was a long one and it was difficult to get the right balance of rest and training. We managed to give the players some time to rest and recuperate over the weekend, but since Tuesday they have been fully focused on the training field.'
'From the first leg we have tried to keep things low key and we told the players that they hadn't achieved anything yet - even after the second leg it was still the same case,' said Simon. 'I have tried to make sure that the players stay focused and are aware that only the teams that win at Wembley are remembered.'
'It will be a very tough game because I believe both teams are similarly matched. Both teams have got players who can win the game through an individual piece of play. We will be very positive in our approach as will Sheffield United, but we know what we can do to hurt them.
'I have come across Danny (Wilson) on many occasions and I have a lot of respect for him. He has done a good job at pretty much every club that he has been at and he has done very well at Sheffield United. I am sure he will be delighted to be in the final, but hopefully he will be disappointed come 5pm on Saturday.'
'A few of the players hadn't played in occasion like it before and I think some of them may have thought that all they had to do was turn up and they would win the game. This year they are against a very good Sheffield United side - one of the biggest clubs in the country when you look at their fan base - and we will probably go into the game as underdogs.
'All the players have got their own motivations but as a collective our motivation is to get the Club into the Championship. If the disappointment from last year drives certain players on then so be it, but our sole motivation as a team is promotion.'
'We have seen this season that when the big games come along he has responded. When we have come up against the top teams this season he has scored against most of them and obviously he thrived in the semi-final, scoring two goals. Hopefully he has got a few more in him for Saturday!
'He is one of the best goalscorers that I have worked with, but they come in many different forms. I think he is very similar to Jermaine Beckford, because he can do something out of nothing. Jordan is probably a little bit more composed than most of the strikers that I have worked with, which was highlighted in our last game against the Dons - most strikers would have snatched at the early chance he had, but he kept his composure and side-footed it past the 'keeper.
'We are not just a one man team though; Lee Novak has come to the forefront and scored goals as has the likes of Danny Ward and others. Jordan has taken a lot of the spotlight this season and I think it has benefited Lee. Teams have obviously focused a lot of their defensive work around Jordan and that has allowed the likes of Lee, Alan Lee and Kallum Higginbotham a little bit more freedom.'
Huddersfield Town Team News:
Scott Arfield has recovered from an ankle injury and is fit for selection.
Ian Bennett will be given until the last moment to prove his fitness, Alex Smithies is on standby.
Gary Naysmith is the only absentee as Grayson has an otherwise fully fit squad to choose from
Player to watch: Jordan Rhodes
All the talk is about the 40 goal hit man, can he shine on the grandest stage of them all on Saturday?
Sheffield United Team News:
Kevin McDonals is struggling with a hamstring injury but will be given until the last minute to prove his fitness.
Nick Montgomery is fit and looking for a starting place.
Richard Cresswell is expected to make the squad but may start from the bench
Player to watch: Stephen Quinn
The 25-year-old midfielder leads the assist charts at Bramall Lane with 15 to his name.
After the loss of Ched Evans, Quinn has found himself in a new role behind the striker - likely to be Chris Porter.
Match Facts & Stats
This is the 99th competitive meeting between the sides over 99 years. Huddersfield lead by 38 wins to 26, with 34 drawn.
This season's two league matches were won by the club playing away from home. Huddersfield won 3-0 at Bramall Lane in September, with a brace from Lee Novak, and one from Oscar Gobern; all in the first half.
A fifth minute goal from Neill Collins gave Sheffield United a 1-0 triumph at the Galpharm in February.
This is the first time the sides have met in the play-offs.
It is the second Yorkshire derby in a play-off final. The first was at this level in 2008, when Doncaster beat Leeds 1-0, in front of 75,132.
Experienced Whistler Roger East will take charge of the npower league one play-off final 2012 between Huddersfield Town & Sheffield United. The Hampshire official has been on the League list since 2006 after previously serving as an assistant referee or linesman as they used to be called. East, has issued a total of 121 yellow cards this season and brandished the dreaded RED card 6 times. The last time East officiated a Town game was back in November in a 2-0 defeat to Charlton live on Sky Sports, a defeat that ended the unbeaten run. Now your asking when was the last time he officiated a Sheffield United Game? Well the answer was the following month in December as Sheffield United triumphed 2-0 at Bournemouth's Dean Court. His assistants will be Harry Lennard (East Sussex) and Matthew Wilkes (West Midlands). Fourth official is Danny McDermidd, from Hampshire, with Buckinghamshire`s Mark Scholes the reserve.
Im not going to make one today.
League One fixtures or Championship fixtures for these pair.. just who will be where is anyones guess