IF MONDAY’S play-off final has to be decided on penalties, Reading should be very apprehensive.
Huddersfield Town have proved to be shoot-out kings in 30 years of the promotion deciders that have revolutionised English football.
Five times a tie involving the Terriers has gone to penalties and five times the Yorkshire club have prevailed. No other club boasts more than one victory in a shoot-out, underlining just how dominant Town have been from the spot.
The most recent triumph, of course, came just ten days ago at Sheffield Wednesday. Chris Lowe, Michael Hefele, Nahki Wells and Aaron Mooy all successfully converted from 12 yards at Hillsborough to seal a 4-3 triumph and a place in the 2017 Championship final.
Town’s knack of holding their nerve in shoot-outs began in the 1995 semi-finals against Brentford. Both legs having finished 1-1, the Griffin Park tie went to penalties and it was Darren Bullock who settled matters in Huddersfield’s favour with the decisive kick.
Nine years later, Peter Jackson’s side prevailed in a one-sided shoot-out against Mansfield Town to win promotion from the basement division – Lee Fowler the fourth of four Town players to do the honours at Cardiff City’s Millennium Stadium as the Stags found the net just once.
Two shoot-outs in as many seasons followed in 2011 and 2012 as Huddersfield chased promotion from League One. The first came at the end of a pulsating semi-final clash with Bournemouth that had finished 4-4 on aggregate.
Tensions were running so high that manager Lee Clark could not watch as Town again netted all four spot-kicks to reach the Old Trafford final. Beaten by Peterborough, the Terriers were back in the play-off final a year later and a marathon shoot-out involving 22 spot-kicks only ended when Sheffield United goalkeeper Steve Simonsen ballooned his effort over the bar.