Monday, 7 May 2012

Preview: League One play off semi finals

With the Football League season now over, there are still games to play for clubs fighting it out in the play off's in all three divisions. After seeing the Championship play off's kick off last week, its the turn of the teams in League One on Friday and Saturday. Having failed at the same stage last season, MK Dons will hope for better luck this time after being beaten by winners Peterborough Utd last year. They face Huddersfield Town who were also beaten 3-0 by Peterborough last year in the show piece final at Old Trafford. The other semi sees two teams, who entered the division at different ends last year, fight for a final promotion place. Sheffield United who were relegated from the Championship last year take on Stevenage who were promoted last year via the League Two play off's.

#1 MK Dons v Huddersfield Town
Dons celebrate at the final whistle; Gillingham 1 MK Dons 1
Both MK Dons and Huddersfield will be looking to succeed at the play off's this year after both falling to Peterborough United in last year's League One play off's. After only managing one win in five games before Saturday, Huddersfield's 2-0 home win against Yeovil on the last day of the season will give the team confidence going into the first leg lunchtime clash on Saturday. They travel to MK Dons, who were five games unbeaten before defeat a surprise home defeat to Walsall on Saturday.  Dons and Huddersfield drew both league games between them this year meaning a close encounter will be expected over the two legs. Town boss Simon Grayson has a lot of experience in the play off's having guided former club Blackpool to play off success in 2007 where he saw the Seasiders gain promotion from League One to the Championship. Grayson also guided old club Leeds United to the League One play off's in his first season at |Elland Road but defeat to Millwall in the semi final's ended the clubs chance of promotion that year. MK Dons go into the tie having never won a two legged semi final play off tie after three attempts. Defeat to Shrewsbury Town in 2007 in League Two was followed by defeats in League One in 2008/09 by Scunthorpe and then by Peterborough United last season. 

#2 Stevenage v Sheffield United
After being beaten to the final automatic spot by rivals Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield United have the difficult task of the play off's if they are to make an immediate comeback to the Championship. The Blades looked certain to achieve automatic promotion, but after only picking up just two points from the last three games, were pipped to the finish by their arch rivals. They come up against newly promoted Stevenage who have had an excellent season. Promoted via the play off's last season from League Two saw Stevenage achieve back to back promotions after achieving promotion from the Conference the season before. Having changed manager in January this year, Stevenage secured a play off place with a home win against Bury on the final day of the season and also enjoyed a decent cup win taking Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur to a replay in the FA Cup. The clubs will play the first leg on Friday night where Sheffield United look set to be without veteran striker James Beattie who was sent off against Exeter at the weekend. Having already being without top goal scorer Ched Evans, it leaves United struggling for strikers in their bid for promotion. 

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