Huddersfield Town boss on Wembley penalty drama: I couldn't watch

HUDDERSFIELD Town manager Simon Grayson did not watch any of the 22 nerve-shredding penalties which eventually saw Town secure promotion back to the npower Championship.

Simon Grayson celebrates as Huddersfield Town are promoted
Simon Grayson celebrates as Huddersfield Town are promoted

HUDDERSFIELD Town manager Simon Grayson did not watch any of the 22 nerve-shredding penalties which eventually saw Town secure promotion back to the npower Championship.

Town missed their first three spot-kicks but still won a dramatic shoot-out 8-7 against Sheffield United after a goalless 120 minutes at Wembley.

Blades goalkeeper Steve Simonsen, the last player left on the pitch to try his luck, fired over the crossbar moments after opposite number Alex Smithies had scored his side’s 11th kick.

Grayson only took over at Town in February, replacing Lee Clark just 20 days after being sacked himself by Leeds.

But he will now get the chance to return to Elland Road with Town next season after securing his third promotion from League One as a manager.

"When we put together the first five penalty takers we didn’t expect it to go down to the goalkeepers to take them," said Grayson.

"I expected them to save a couple but not to take the decisive ones.

"We missed the first three, so how we recovered from that I’ll never know.

"I couldn’t affect anything so I just sat down on the bench next to my chairman, I didn’t watch any of them.

"I could tell by the crowd what was happening, basically we just had a laugh and a joke about what was going to happen. It’s down to the players.

"Sometimes it’s written in the stars, you get your bit of luck and we managed to do that."

Click here for a gallery of Huddersfield Town players and management celebrating at the final whistle and as the promotion trophy was hoisted aloft.

While the goalkeepers took centre-stage, Town's 40-goal striker Jordan Rhodes endured a quiet game, but he is still expected to be the subject of bids from Premier League clubs this summer.

However, Grayson is determined to keep his star man and added: "Hopefully we can match his ambition. We are not looking to sell him,"

Sheffield United have now lost all four of the play-off finals they have contested - and still not managed to find the net in any of them.

With three games to go this season they were second but, having lost top scorer Ched Evans to a jail term for rape, they were pipped to automatic promotion by rivals Sheffield Wednesday.

The outcome was particularly cruel on Simonsen, who had kept the Blades in the final with some fine stops as Town created the best of the game’s few chances, and then saved two of their first three spot-kicks.

Shortly after Danny Ward had crashed a shot against the crossbar, Simonsen dived to save Peter Clarke’s header and Michael Doyle cleared Tommy Miller’s rebound off the line.

Simonsen then palmed away Alan Lee’s angled drive early in extra-time, before the Blades escaped again when Nick Montgomery hooked Clarke’s goalbound header clear.

Click here for a gallery of match action pictures from the game

The United keeper looked like being the hero with saves from Miller and Lee, either side of a miss from Town’s Damien Johnson.

But opposite number Smithies, only in the side due to an injury to Ian Bennett, was also playing a starring role with saves from Lee Williamson, Matt Lowton and Andy Taylor.

After 10 penalties the score was just 2-2, but the next 10 were converted to leave just Smithies and Simonsen to face each other.

Smithies kept his nerve to hit the net but Simonsen did not, skying his effort high over the bar before collapsing to the ground as Town celebrated.

"I can’t think of a worse way to lose," admitted Blades manager Danny Wilson.

"Steve had a terrific game. Who would have thought it would come down to the two keepers?

"He feels doubly disappointed because of his performance. These boys are devastated, all their hard work has been taken away, it’s very difficult to console them."

Don't miss Monday's Examiner for a free 16-page Huddersfield Town special promotion pullout

 
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