Soccer

Huddersfield Town v Nottingham Forest: Championship play-off final – live!


26 min This is a better spell for Huddersfield, with Thomas and O’Brien more involved in open play.

25 min Zinckernagel is lucky not to be booked for a poor challenge on O’Brien.

24 min “Quite sad that this is the final MBM of the club season,” writes Will Lane. “This my first as a regular MBM follower and have thoroughly enjoyed it. I am smugly listening to the match from a Valencian beach, a bag of beers next to me and a belly full of tapas (including some delicious wafer-thin pork). Enough braggadocio, I’m cheering on the reds with text updates from my brother who’s sat in Wembley having the time of his life.

“Would Forest be the first universally loved team to be in the premier league? Even the Leicester fans I know are rooting for them. People are indifferent to Southampton, Palace, Brentford etc. but it feels like there is genuine goodwill towards Forest. As a part-time fan (I am at least from the Nottingham area so not glory supporting) and thinking of upping my hours to a permanent contract it’s a pretty good feeling to be rooting for such a popular team.”

I’m not sure any team (or, indeed, any thing) are universally loved, not in the modern world, but Forest are pretty close. There’s one man to thank for that.

23 min A decent Huddersfield break. O’Brien finds Thomas in a bit of space on the left, and his cross is well blocked by Worrall.

22 min In the last 10 minutes, Forest have had 86 per cent of you-know-what.

21 min Yates shimmies neatly away from Sarr on the edge of the area but then shoots miles over the bar. He had Johnson in space to his right.

18 min The match has settled into the expected pattern, with Forest having a lot of the ball and Huddersfield trying to sting them on the counter. Yates’s header remains the only chance, clear or otherwise.

16 min Colback’s corner is a bit too deep and drifts behind for a goalkick.

15 min Forest are starting to dominate possession. Spence plays a slick one-two with Johnson and wins a corner off the covering Toffolo.

12 min: What a chance for Yates! Garner flips a gorgeous free-kick onto the head of Yates, whose glancing header from eight yards goes just – and I mean just – wide of the far post. As Don Goodman says on Sky Sports, he missed an almost identical chance at Bramall Lane in the semi-final.

11 min Zinckernagel is cynically flattened by Sarr, who is a bit fortunate not to be booked. Free-kick to Forest on the left wing…

8 min It’s all a bit hectic. Huddersfield have probably settled better, though there’s very little in it.

4 min Nothing much to report so far. These playoff finals often take a while to get going; some of them never really do. The last classic Championship final was probably Swansea’s 4-2 win over Reading in 2010-11.

1 min Yates fouls Thomas 35 yards from goal, which allows Huddersfield to send their big lads forward for the first time. Thomas hits it straight out of play for a goalkick. He’s a lot better than that.

1 min Peep peep! Ryan Yates gets the Championship playoff final under way.

The pre-match thoughts of both managers

🔴 “We’re here for a reason!”
🔵 “I can only expect one very, very competitive game!”

The final thoughts from both Steve Cooper and Carlos Corberan 👇 pic.twitter.com/po7GB8z4lN

— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) May 29, 2022

It’s a pleasure to report that both teams are wearing their proper colours – blue and white for Huddersfield, red for Forest.

“I had no idea this was Jon Moss’s last game,” says Joshua Reynolds. “I thought it was the on the last day of the PL season. Good for the owner of the Vinyl Whistle ending it at Wembley.”

Here come the players. For most, it’s the biggest game of their life so far. For many, it’s the biggest game they’ll ever play.

“Compared to many of your readers, I am sure I am a relative newcomer to the Premier League,” says Joe Pearson. “I’ve only been an avid follower since it became available to watch here in the USA! in the early aughts, or should I say the ‘noughties’? Anyway, even I know the Premier League would be better with an historic club like Forest in it. Come on you Tricky Trees!”

A reminder of the teams

Huddersfield (3-4-2-1) Nicholls; Lees, Sarr, Colwill; Pipa, Hogg, O’Brien, Toffolo; Thomas, Sinani; Ward.
Substitutes: Blackman, Pearson, Anjorin, Rhodes, Holmes, Turton, Russell.

Nottingham Forest (3-4-1-2) Samba; Worrall, Cook, McKenna; Spence, Yates, Garner, Colback; Zinckernagel; Johnson, Davis.
Substitutes: Horvath, Figueiredo, Lowe, Surridge, Mighten, Cafu, Lolley.

Referee Jon Moss.

“I messaged before the semi-final second leg vs Luton and predicted that Sorba Thomas would come on a make the difference – he did,” says Alistair Harris. “This time I’m less confident of a victory but, if we win, it will be our set pieces that do it. Come on you Terriers!”

From afar, the first goal feels even more important than usual. Both teams are very good on the counter-attack, and both have insecurities that will be exacerbated if they go behind.

Pre-match music (Forest version)

Of all the individual duels today, none are as exciting as the one between Harry Toffolo and Djed Spence, two of the Championship’s finest wing-backs.

The two captains have been chatting to Sky Sports

Pre-match reading

You don’t have to be a Forest fan to have the softest spot for this man. At his best, either side of Italia 90, he was as good as any England defender in my lifetime. And he used to sing “You’ll never beat Des Walker” at Gary Lineker when they played against each other.

“The very first time I came here was to see Michael Jackson!” 🕺

Nottingham Forest legend Des Walker became very familiar with Wembley over the years ❤️ pic.twitter.com/5JFhg84QUB

— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) May 29, 2022

Team news

It looks like Jonathan Hogg will move back into midfield for Huddersfield, though you never quite know with Carlos Corberan.

There are two changes from the second leg victory over Luton: Naby Sarr and set-piece master Sorba Thomas replace Jon Russell and Duane Holmes.

No surprises in the Forest team. The only decision for Steve Cooper was whether to pick start with Keinan Davis or Sam Surridge up front. He’s gone for Davis.

Preamble

Hello and welcome to live coverage of the Championship playoff final between Huddersfield and Nottingham Forest at Wembley. We’re contractually obliged to call this “the richest game in football”, and what a thoroughly miserable viewpoint that is. This game is about money, of course it is, but it’s also about glory, euphoria and the creation of eternal memories.

By tonight, one of these teams will be a top-flight side – Forest for the first time since 1999, Huddersfield for only the second time since 1972. There is such goodwill towards Forest, particularly among us older farts, and the world will feel slightly less deranged if they are back in the Premier League next season. But there are two teams playing today, and in many ways Huddersfield being promoted would be an even better story.

Since relegation to the Championship in 2019, Huddersfield have finished 18th, 20th… and now third. Carlos Corberan, in his second season at the club, has done the most spectacular job. But then so has Steve Cooper, who took over in September with Forest bottom of the league. They are both intelligent, modern managers, and next season one of them will count Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Antonio Conte among their peers. How exciting is that?

Both teams have got here on the cheap – Huddersfield with a squad that cost around £2m, Forest through judicious use of the loan system. In a plutocracy they have no real place being at Wembley. But this game is about so much more than money.

Kick off 4.30pm.





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