EFL Championship Playoffs, schedule, scores: Sheffield United-Nottingham Forest next; Luton-Huddersfield draw

The richest prize in the sport is within the reach of the four teams that are still in the EFL championship. Only one from Luton, Huddersfield, Sheffield United and Nottingham Forest can join Fulham and Bournemouth in next season’s Premier League; the battle to escape the playoffs is well underway.

The first leg of Luton’s draw with Huddersfield was a habitually nervous affair, an early goal for the visitors at Kenilworth Road disallowed by Hatters captain Sonny Bradley, leaving the tie on a knife’s edge. Away goals don’t count in the EFL playoffs, which means the equation is tantalizingly simple for both clubs at John Smith’s Stadium on Monday. Win and they go to Wembley.

Sheffield United and Nottingham Forest will start their semi-final on Saturday at Bramall Lane; the hosts only gained promotion in one of eight playoff campaigns, but Blades manager Paul Heckingbottom described this story as “irrelevant” to United. Forest, meanwhile, want to end a 23-year exile from England’s top flight; Steve Cooper’s team may have won automatic promotion, but for the loss to Bournemouth earlier this month and will have to do things the hard way now.

Here is the schedule and the latest updates:

Schedule and how to watch

all times eastern

semifinals

Friday, May 13
Luton Town 1, Huddersfield Town 1

Saturday, May 14
Sheffield United v Nottingham Forest, 10am on ESPN+

Monday, May 16
Huddersfield Town v Luton Town, 14:45 on ESPN+

Tuesday, May 17
Nottingham Forest v Sheffield United, 14:45 on ESPN+

Final
Sunday, May 29
Sheffield United/Nottingham Forest v Huddersfield/Luton, TBD on ESPN+

Honors even on Kenilworth Road

Everything is in the air at half-time in the first semi-final, with Huddersfield returning from the first leg at Kenilworth Road to a 1-1 draw, Daniel Sinani’s goal was canceled before half-time in a tense game in Bedfordshire.

Chasing a top flight spot that would have limited their eight-year non-league rise to the Premier League, Luton was to be expected to show nervousness from the start. Perhaps this explains the leniency of referee Robert Jones when he allowed a James Bree shove on Harry Toffolo to pass without whistling; if the Hatters’ right backs had received their marching orders, he would have had little reason to complain.

Huddersfield didn’t have to wait long to claim the lead, with Sinani trailing Matt Ingram at his closest post. The visitors seemed willing to absorb the pressure that came on, but they had little response to the intensity of the first half of Cameron Jerome, determined to make a good impression against his hometown club. The veteran striker won a free kick in the left channel, which resulted in the equalizer for Luton, an excellent move by Kal Naismith, guided with force by Captain Bradley. Jerome could have scored a penalty before the break, colliding with Naby Sarr to no avail.

The second half saw the two teams most concerned about staying in the game ahead of Monday’s second leg at John Smith’s Stadium, the threat of Duane Holmes on Huddersfield’s left almost repelled by the home defence. Carlos Corberan will be marginally the happier of the two coaches, with his side returning to ground they’ve only lost once this year, knowing a win will send them to Wembley.

Sheffield United vs Nottingham Forest preview

One of the reasons why Sheffield United are on such a high is the performances of Morgan Gibbs-White. Much of Paul Heckingbottom’s squad is similar to what was relegated from the Premier League, except for Gibbs-White, who is on loan from Wolverhampton. Playing as a number ten or second forward, he scored 11 goals and provided nine more assists to finish second on the team, behind Billy Sharp in scoring, who scored 14 and had seven assists. Able to provide a strong exit ahead of Sander Berge, Oliver Norwood and John Fleck, Gibbs-White has been a catalyst for Sheffield United’s season and will need to maintain his strong form ahead of the playoffs.

As for Forest, it’s hard to believe this team was closer to the relegation zone when Steve Cooper took over after leaving Chris Houghton. They really turned it on. Cooper almost put them on automatic promotion, but they’ll be happy with a playoff spot and being one of the favorites to be promoted this season. It’s been a real team effort under Cooper, with Brennan Johnson leading the line, but they’ve gotten good performances from borrowers like James Garner, Keinan Davis and Djed Spence, as well as having reserves like Ethan Horvath substituting at the net while collecting. some clean sheets.

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