First leg review
The Championship play-off semi-final between Luton and Huddersfield is finely poised after the first leg ended in a 1-1 draw at Kenilworth Road last Friday night. Danel Sinani put Huddersfield ahead before Sonny Bradley equalised. Meanwhile, both sides had appeals for a penalty turned down in an exciting encounter.
The visitors went ahead on the counter-attack after Luton were caught out by Harry Toffolo's ball forward. Sinani, on loan from Norwich, capitalised by taking on Bradley and firing past keeper Matt Ingram at his near post. Skipper Bradley then hauled the Hatters level on the half-hour mark by nudging home Kal Naismith's left-wing free-kick.
Huddersfield dominated possession as the Hatters tired in the second half, but both struggled to create clear-cut chances as the contest concluded with a goal apiece.
Corberan accepts first leg stalemate
Speaking post-match, Huddersfield boss Carlos Corberan accepted the result. He said, "If I assess the result, it was a fair result. If I analyse the performance, they felt more comfortable than us in the first half and we felt more comfortable than them in the second half. In the second half we started to create more, even if we didn't create clear chances."
The Terriers are hoping to have Levi Colwill back fit and available for the second leg showdown, but Ollie Turton is considered a major doubt having been withdrawn at half-time in Bedfordshire due to injury.
Jones delighted with Luton display
Luton head coach Nathan Jones piled on plenty of praise to his own players when assessing the first fixture. He said, "I thought we were excellent first half, really were front-footed and controlled the game. We got hit with a counter-attack, that was probably it, but we had some real good chances and I was a little bit disappointed we didn't have a lead.
"Second half they came into it, controlled the play a little bit more in front of us - without really causing us massive problems - and I thought we defended our box fantastically well."
The Hatters named an unchanged side at Kenilworth Road, meaning for the third match running, top goalscorer Elijah Adebayo wasn't included, despite undergoing cryotherapy treatment during the week in a bid to get fit. The visitors hope he can play some part in Monday night's meeting.
Huddersfield are now unbeaten in each of their last five head-to-head encounters with Luton, although four of those fixtures have ended in stalemates (W1-D4-0). The Terriers silenced the Hatters in the league's two regular season meetings his term, picking up a 2-0 triumph at the John Smith's Stadium.
Huddersfield 2.305/4 have been in fantastic form since December. Only Nottingham Forest have earned more regular season points during that impressive streak (W15-D9-L2) and the hosts picked up the second-most home points this season. Meanwhile, Carlos Corberan's troops lost just seven of 43 showdowns against sides outside of the top-two (W22-D14-L7).
Luton 3.4012/5 were beaten nine times on their travels during the regular Championship season and found the going particularly tough when visiting the league's elite. The Hatters returned just W2-D2-L8 at top-13 teams, shipping multiple goals on nine occasions. Nevertheless, the Bedfordshire boys have lost just five of their last 25 outings.
With a place at Wembley and potential promotion on the line, EFL play-off semi-final second legs produce 0.45 goals per-game more on average than their first leg counterparts as a sense of desperation and urgency creeps into play. Going back to the beginning of 2000, 49% of second leg fixtures have seen Over 2.5 Goals and 56% deliver Both Teams To Score.
With that in mind, there's potential to support a goal-heavy game at a nice price on Monday night with BTTS available at 1.9720/21, odds that suggest just a 51% chance of succeeding. Considering how the first fixture played out, as well as game state surrounding the tie, I'm anticipating an open, expansive and more end-to-end encounter in West Yorkshire.