Huddersfield finish with a flourish

Third Division Play-Off: Huddersfield Town 0 Mansfield Town 0 <i>(aet; Huddersfield win 4-1 on penalties)</i>

It would not feel like the play-off final weekend if there was not a penalty shoot-out in one of the three games. That it happened in the most entertaining and open match of the lot was no reflection on how these two sides approached the 49th and final game of their exhausting campaigns.

It would not feel like the play-off final weekend if there was not a penalty shoot-out in one of the three games. That it happened in the most entertaining and open match of the lot was no reflection on how these two sides approached the 49th and final game of their exhausting campaigns.

Both teams had their chances to settle affairs in normal time, let alone extra time, but thanks to a combination of excellent goalkeeping and bad finishing they were doomed to try their luck from 12 yards.

As it was, Huddersfield kept their nerve and converted all four that they had to take, with Lee Fowler converting the decisive one. Keith Curle's Mansfield side, who had won their semi-final on penalties, missed two of their first three and face another season in the Third Division.

Meanwhile Peter Jackson can continue in the higher division the rebuilding work he started at Huddersfield when he took over a year ago.

It was less than Mansfield deserved for their spirited approach to a game that could have finished with them in the Second Division for only the third time in 12 years. However, the Terriers would argue that they had the moral right to promotion. They finished in the play-off places only on goal difference and were some six points ahead of Mansfield.

Huddersfield had started with intent when Pawel Abbott's header floated just wide of an open goal after seven minutes, and he continued to be their main threat in front of goal. Nine minutes before the break Abbott, the man who replaced Jon Stead when he joined Blackburn in January, worked himself two yards of space but smashed his shot at Kevin Pilkington and was not quick enough to the rebound. Two minutes after the interval, Danny Schofield slipped him a pass but although he got a foot to it, Pilkington was quick off his line to close down the danger.

Huddersfield's increasing amount of possession began to tell on their opponents, who were tiring with 20 minutes left. Yet the pattern of missing good opportunities to score had been set and continued with Schofield when he was denied by a last-ditch block.

That was the cue for a sustained bout of goalmouth action in the last 10 minutes when either side could have scored.

Firstly Abbott set up Booth, who saw his chip drift just wide with the goalkeeper stranded, and the former Sheffield Wednesday forward then headed over from close range with the match in injury time.

Mansfield also had chances in stoppage time. Firstly Wayne Corden was denied by a diving save and then Colin Larkin had the ball in the net only for an offside flag to cut the celebrations short.

The arrival of extra time did not kill the game off, as Anthony Carss curled his shot just inches wide of the upright and then his Huddersfield teammate Anthony Lloyd was on the verge of celebrating the winning goal only for Pilkington to produce a full-length diving save. However, he did not have to wait much longer to produce those celebrations in full.

Huddersfield Town (3-5-2): Rachubka; Mirfin, Sodje, Yates; Lloyd (Edwards, 112), Carss, Worthington (Fowler, 85), Schofield, Holdsworth; Booth, Abbott (McAliskey, 91) Substitutes not used: Senior (gk), Brown.

Mansfield Town (4-4-1-1): Pilkington; Hassell, Day, John-Baptiste, Eaton; Lawrence, Curtis, Williamson (MacKenzie, 98), Corden; Disley (Larkin, 60); Mendes (D'Jaffo, 69) Substitutes not used: Coates (gk), Artell.

Referee: M Clattenburg (Tyne and Wear).

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