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Moyes brush aside off-field occurrence in Brighton Loss

Moyes brush aside off-field occurrence in Brighton Loss

West Ham United Boss, David Moyes has stated that the internal occurrences within the London club are not a factor in their recent loss to Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

The Hammers who has witnessed an upsurge in form since the appointment of the former Everton Manager suffered a shocking 3-1 defeat to Brighton last weekend and reports emanated that the recent sack of the club’s director of Player recruitment could have been responsible.

Tony Henry, who previously has eld the highly revered position in the club hierarchy was fired after claims that he was linked with racism. He was believed to have mentioned that the club will restrict the number of African players they bring into the squad as a result of their despicable attitude and poor orientation based on a report.

When the Manager was questioned about the influence of such reports on the squad, Moyes said: “It had no effect whatsoever. The club has done what they think they have to do and move on, and we have to. It’s always the manager’s job but I don’t think the events would have any serious influence.”

West Ham defender, Arthur Masuaku has been previously banned for six games after he was caught spitting on an opponent in the Hammer’s FA Cup loss to Wigan Athletic last week before the recent Henry sack. “Maybe that’s just West Ham, I don’t know,” Moyes added.

“In management, no day is ever dull. The job brings up some difficult situations and some strange ones.” The loss to Brighton left West Ham in 12th on 27 points with just three points above the relegation zone in a very tight bottom half of the table.

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Adam Forshaw agrees deal with Leeds United, set to undergo Medicals

According to reports from Sky Sports News, Middlesbrough’s Adam Forshaw has agreed to a deal to join Leeds United.

The 26-year old midfielder is believed to have finalized his personal terms with Leeds and the deal might be in the tune of £2million.

Forshaw featured for Middlesbrough in the Premier League last term after joining them in 2015 for the same price, he has made 79 appearances and scored just two goals in all competitions.

The report suggested that another championship side, Cardiff City were also keen on bringing the English International to their ranks but ended their interest after completing the deal to sign Marko Grujic from Liverpool on loan for the rest of the season.

Manager, Tony Pulis has agreed to allow the midfielder move on as it seems he doesn’t have him [Forshaw] in his plans, Forshaw hasn’t made the team’s starting 11 since December 2.

He was once a trainee at Everton at the beginning of his career before joining Brentford in League One after a successful loan spell.

Before joining Wigan in 2014 when he was signed by then Wigan boss Uwe Rosler, he was part of the Brentford side that secured promotion to the Championship under Mark Warburton.

Watford welcomes back Abdoulaye Doucoure

The Hornets started the season quite spectacularly but have endured a six-game winless run over the past few weeks and they will hope to get back on track when they host Leicester today. The return of Abdoulaye Doucoure from suspension will definitely boost their chances as he has been one of the stand-out performers for them this season and Manager, Marco Silva referred to the French midfielder as the “heartbeat” of his side.

Doucoure received his fifth yellow card of the season in Watford’s 4:1 home loss to Huddersfield Town and thereafter missed their Saturday 1:0 loss at Brighton.

In his post-match media conference on Saturday, Manager, Silva said it would make “a big, big difference” to have Doucoure available to call upon against the Foxes and continued: “Him and Tom Cleverley [who was also unavailable in the loss to Huddersfield and [Nathaniel] Chalobah, the three players in our middle zone, they were amazing at the beginning of the season, they are really the heartbeat of our team.

“We have Ben {Watson], we have [Etienne] Capoue, we have [Roberto] Pereyra as well to play in our middle zone, but of course when you miss one player like Doucoure today, when we miss one player like Tom in our last game at home, I don’t talk more about Chalobah because he’s a longer term injury, but we felt it when we’re missing a player like him.”

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#JeffsMarch for EFL’s Official Charity Partner begins


Soccer Saturday host Stelling has laced up his walking boots once more as his latest unbelievable walking challenge for Prostate Cancer UK kicked off in Exeter.

Teaming up with the leading men’s health organisation, the long-standing TV presenter is aiming to raise £500,000 on his March for Men, walking 15 marathons in 15 days from 2nd to 16th June.

The first steps of the 2017 challenge saw the 62-year-old leave Exeter City’s St James Park and the march will see the Sky stalwart walk 400 miles to Newcastle United’s St James’ Park, in the North East of England.

Jeff’s journey will see him visit more than 40 football clubs, heading up the west of England via Bristol and Stoke and through the northern footballing hotbeds of Merseyside and Manchester, before cutting across the country and ending at the home of Sky Bet Championship winners Newcastle.

Stelling said: “I’m grateful to everyone who is supporting me on my March for Men as we raise vital awareness and funds for Prostate Cancer UK.

“Prostate Cancer kills one man every hour in the UK, and I just decided I couldn’t sit on my backside and do nothing about it. I can put one foot in front of the next and hopefully raise awareness and raise funds to help men beat this diabolical disease.

“This year’s route gives us an opportunity to go to parts of the country that we’ve not been to before and to spread the word to people who maybe didn’t hear that message as loudly last time round.

“So starting down at Exeter City, we are heading north relentlessly and ending in St James’ Park, Newcastle, at one of the great football grounds, where I know we will get a fantastic welcome from all Geordies.”

Prostate Cancer UK is the Official Charity Partner of The English Football League (EFL) and 22 clubs will be represented along the route, through the heartlands of England.

Stelling will also stop off at eight Premier League clubs as well as 12 non-league sides with the final day on Friday 16th June kicking off at the Emirates Riverside, home of Durham County Cricket club.

The mega event is part of Prostate Cancer UK’s wider walking programme, March for Men, which includes a trio of Local Walks across Father’s Day weekend, in London on 17th June and Leeds and Glasgow 24 hours later. The charity will also be encouraging supporters to hold their own marches to try and raise £1 million through walking in 2017.

To support Jeff, and find out more about his challenge, visit prostatecanceruk.org/jeffsmarch or text JEFF to 70004 to donate £5 to stop prostate cancer being a killer, and to get a free Man of Men badge like Jeff.



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Penalties through the eyes of the fans


The decisive penalty shoot-out that sent Huddersfield Town to the Premier League was as close as the 120 minutes that went before it.

From the eyes of rival fans, watching the game at Wembley, the emotion and jeopardy was clear to see, with such a huge prize at stake.

Reading fan Paul Todd, and Huddersfield Town fan Danny Shaw, were hooked up to heart rate monitors and filmed for a Facebook Live broadcast on SportBible’s “BallWatchers” feature.

As chances came and went in the game, the tension grew for both fans and by the end of extra-time, despite there still being no goals, the match had grown into an epic battle.

What followed was a rollercoaster of emotions piled into ten penalty kicks, with only one winner.



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Sky Bet EFL: Team of the Play-Offs


We’ve picked out 11 players and a manager to make up one final selection. So here’s our Team of the Play-Offs, and a chance to relive some of the post-season highlights.

Goalkeeper: Danny Ward (Huddersfield Town)

A hero in the semi-final shoot-out against Sheffield Wednesday, Ward repeated the feat at Wembley.

Two saves against the Owls were followed up by the on-loan stopper denying Jordan Obita from 12 yards, setting his side up for Play-Off Final victory.

Defender: Tony Craig (Millwall)

Craig set up the goal that began Millwall’s semi-final comeback against Scunthorpe United, providing a superb cross for Steve Morison to score.

The captain backed that up with an immense performance at Wembley, nullifying Bradford City’s threat as the Lions secured Sky Bet League One promotion.

Defender: Christopher Schindler (Huddersfield Town)

The German stood tall at the back throughout Huddersfield’s Play-Off campaign, including keeping Reading at bay in the Play-Off Final.

And then, he stepped up from 12 yards, scoring the penalty which sent the Terriers to the Premier League.

Defender: Chris Gunter (Reading)

Ever dependable, Gunter was part of an impressive Reading defence which stemmed the attack of Fulham and Huddersfield during their Play-Offs campaign.

The full-back let little past him and provided an attacking outlet down the right, but he fell just short of captaining the Royals back to the top flight.

Midfielder: Bright Osayi-Samuel (Blackpool)

The future’s definitely bright for the young winger, who was introduced in the Play-Off Final as an early substitute after an injury to centre-back Tom Aldred.

That forced a tactical reshuffle, but Osayi-Samuel provided a crucial outlet and was a constant threat, helping to swing the game back in Blackpool’s favour.

Midfielder: Shaun Williams (Millwall)

A calm and composed figure in midfield, Williams excelled for Millwall over their three Play-Off games.

With the clock ticking towards the 90-minute mark at Wembley, the Irishman then provided a touch of class, with his cross leading to the promotion-winning goal.

Midfielder: Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield Town)

Mooy demonstrated his class again throughout the Play-Offs, and was one of Huddersfield’s star performers again at Wembley.

He also coolly slotted in the Play-Off Final shoot-out, scoring the fourth kick to bring the Terriers back level.

Midfielder: Brad Potts (Blackpool)

Potts was influential in Blackpool’s semi-final success against Luton Town, and he was named Man of the Match at Wembley.

Opening the scoring early on, Potts continued to be a driving force, and set up the promotion-winning goal in the 2-1 success over Exeter City.

Midfielder: David Wheeler (Exeter City)

The winger carried his league form into the Play-Offs, impressing and getting on the scoresheet in the thrilling two-legged semi-final against Carlisle United.

He stood out at Wembley, too, where he scored a sublime goal – although it wasn’t enough to carry Exeter to victory.

Forward: Steve Morison (Millwall)

After scoring twice and setting the other up in a 3-2 semi-final win at Scunthorpe, Morison took centre stage again in the Play-Off Final.

Leading the line superbly, the striker demonstrated his prowess in front of goal again, grabbing the late winner which fired the Lions to the Sky Bet Championship.

Forward: Mark Cullen (Blackpool)

A star of the Play-Offs, Cullen scored a semi-final first leg hat-trick to give Blackpool the advantage over former club Luton Town, and notched two assists in the second leg.

Then to Wembley, where an exquisite lay-off set up Potts’ opener, before poking home himself to send the Seasiders back to Sky Bet League One.

Manager: Neil Harris (Millwall)



After suffering Play-Off Final heartache last term, Harris lifted his Lions to guide them back to the post-season.

After finishing sixth, Millwall had to do it the hard way – overcoming Scunthorpe and then Bradford to return to the Sky Bet Championship.



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Akai Coleman wins dream competition to commentate at Wembley


Having watched his side gain promotion back to the Championship at Wembley last weekend, Millwall fan Akai Coleman was announced as the winner of a national competition run by Nicktoons and the EFL to find the UK’s most talented young football commentators.

A little over a week after Steve Morison’s late goal in the Sky Bet League One Play-Off Final that fired Millwall up, Akai experienced a unique day at the national stadium.

He gained behind the scenes access with the Nick Kicks crew, including stepping inside the Wembley dressing rooms, climbing the famous steps to the Royal Box, interviewing players and reporting pitchside on one of the biggest games of the season, as Huddersfield Town beat Reading 4-3 on penalties to secure a dramatic promotion into England’s top flight.

With a record-breaking number of youngsters now attending EFL matches up and down the country, the EFL and Nicktoons launched a campaign to find a fan aged 16 or under to join the Nick Kicks commentary team alongside presenters Roman Kemp and Rachel Stringer at Wembley Stadium.


To be in with a chance of becoming the Diddy Pundit, fans were asked to upload a video giving a 60-second match report on a game of their choice. Five finalists were shortlisted and invited to professionally record a match report in the Nick Kicks studio in London, with Akai being voted the overall winner.

Nick Kicks co-presenter Rachel Stringer said, “Diddy Pundit has been a brilliant opportunity for budding commentators and Akai was fantastic when he joined us at Wembley Stadium to help us report on one of the biggest matches of the season.”





Nick Kicks is a weekly football show, bringing you the best goals, biggest fans and funniest fails from across the EFL. New episodes of Nick Kicks premiere on Friday evenings at 6:00pm on Nicktoons.

Viewers will be able to watch Akai at Wembley on Nick Kicks which airs at 6:00pm on Friday 2nd June on Nicktoons.



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Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final: Manager reaction


Victory for David Wagner’s side sealed promotion the English football’s top tier for the first time in 45 years.

“I’m so unbelievably happy that this fairytale had a happy ending,” exclaimed the Terriers boss. “Thanks to the chairman, even when he thought my ideas were crazy, he backed me all the way.

“We said no limits at the start of this season and we found new ways to be competitive. We were told we weren’t experienced enough. Experience is important, but if you have passion, desire and fresh ideas, you can match it.”

Wagner was full of sympathy for his counterpart Stam, and was well aware of how tough of a task this Reading team was to overcome.

“There were three other very good teams involved in this year’s Play-Offs,” he added. “They are amazing if you win, but tough if you don’t.

“Reading are a fantastic team, and very difficult to beat. We had to be at our very best today to get our place in the Premier League.”

Jaap Stam, who guided his Reading side to a third-placed finish in the Sky Bet Championship, was obviously disappointed with the way the season ended.

However, he still had plenty of praise for his players, and is determined to go one better with the Royals next term.

“Its always difficult to lose. We gave it our best shot and did everything in our power to try and win the game.

“Both teams didn’t want to take risks. You need to play like you do in the league games, but it’s not possible because it’s a totally different occasion.

“I played in big games that needed penalties and you always had certain players that would have an excuse for not wanting to step up — that didn’t happen here. My players took the responsibility, nobody shirked.

“Finals are there to be won, and thats what we tried to do – we need to give it another shot next season.”



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Sky Bet EFL: 2016/17 season in brief


Now, all eyes turn to the 2017/18 season, and it won’t be long before the planning begins. The date for your diary? 21st June 2017… #FixtureReleaseDay.

This season has been a truly memorable one, with twists, turns, and triumphant tales. Here’s a little recap of the culmination of the past nine months.

Gallery: Click here to see our 2016/17 promotion gallery

Newcastle United were crowned champions of the Sky Bet Championship, snatching the title away from Brighton & Hove Albion in the dying minutes of the final game.

The Seagulls were still promoted, however, in second place, and will be joined in the top flight by Huddersfield Town after their Wembley win over Reading.

Champions: Newcastle United


Runners-up: Brighton & Hove Albion


Play-Off winners: Huddersfield Town


Relegated: Blackburn Rovers, Wigan Athletic, Rotherham United


Relegated from the Premier League: Hull City, Middlesbrough, Sunderland

Click here for the full Sky Bet Championship 2017/18 line-up

Sky Bet League One masthead - 600w

In Sky Bet League One, Sheffield United were the EFL’s star performers, romping to the title and amassing a century of points in the process.

That meant back-to-back promotions for boss Chris Wilder, who had won Sky Bet League Two with Northampton Town the season prior.

Bolton Wanderers won the race for second with three points on the final day, and it was Millwall who emerged victorious in the Play-Off Final, courtesy of Steve Morison’s late winner under the arch.

Champions: Sheffield United


Runners-up: Bolton Wanderers


Play-Off winners: Millwall


Relegated: Port Vale, Swindon Town, Coventry City, Chesterfield

Click here for the full Sky Bet League One 2017/18 line-up

Sky Bet League Two masthead - 600w

The Sky Bet League Two season ended in incredible fashion with Portsmouth, who were sitting third at the start of the final day, winning the title on goal difference ahead of Plymouth Argyle.

Doncaster Rovers sealed promotion earlier than both sides, but let their lead slip, ending the season in third spot.

The trio will be joined in English football’s third tier by Blackpool, who won a record-breaking fifth Play-Off Final, defeating Exeter City 2-1 at Wembley.

Champions: Portsmouth


Runners-up: Plymouth Argyle


Promoted: Doncaster Rovers


Play-Off winners: Blackpool


Relegated: Hartlepool United, Leyton Orient


Promoted from The National League: Lincoln City, Forest Green Rovers

Click here for the full Sky Bet League Two 2017/18 line-up



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Sky Bet EFL: 2017/18 Division line-ups


Here’s how the Sky Bet Championship, Sky Bet League One and Sky Bet League Two will look in 2017/18. And it’s not long until #FixtureReleaseDay – 21st June, in fact!

Season in brief: Read a short recap of the 2016/17 EFL season

Aston Villa


Barnsley


Birmingham City


Bolton Wanderers


Brentford


Bristol City


Burton Albion


Cardiff City


Derby County


Fulham


Hull City


Ipswich Town


Leeds United


Middlesbrough


Millwall


Norwich City


Nottingham Forest


Preston North End


Queens Park Rangers


Reading


Sheffield United


Sheffield Wednesday


Sunderland


Wolverhampton Wanderers

Sky Bet League One masthead - 600w

AFC Wimbledon


Blackburn Rovers


Blackpool


Bradford City


Bristol Rovers


Bury


Charlton Athletic


Doncaster Rovers


Fleetwood Town


Gillingham


Milton Keynes Dons


Northampton Town


Oldham Athletic


Oxford United


Peterborough United


Plymouth Argyle


Portsmouth


Rochdale


Rotherham United


Scunthorpe United


Shrewsbury Town


Southend United


Walsall


Wigan Athletic

Sky Bet League Two masthead - 600w

Accrington Stanley


Barnet


Cambridge United


Carlisle United


Cheltenham Town


Chesterfield


Colchester United


Coventry City


Crawley Town


Crewe Alexandra


Exeter City


Forest Green Rovers


Grimsby Town


Lincoln City


Luton Town


Mansfield Town


Morecambe


Newport County


Notts County


Port Vale


Stevenage


Swindon Town


Wycombe Wanderers


Yeovil Town



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Huddersfield Town win promotion to the Premier League


Danny Ward and Christopher Schindler were the shoot-out heroes as the goalkeeper saved Jordan Obita’s spot-kick, before the German defender coolly converted a penalty which was worth £170 million and a place in the top flight.

The victory completed what has been a remarkable season for David Wagner’s men, which was the manager’s first in charge of the Yorkshire club.

In what was a tense, goalless 90 minutes, Huddersfield’s Izzy Brown had the best opportunity in the ninth minute, which arrived not long after Michael Hefele missed a close-range header early on.

Nahki Wells’ cross-shot from the right-hand side took a deflection and fell to Brown at the back-post but, from point-blank range, the Chelsea loanee’s effort went an inch or two wide of the target.

It was more of the same in extra-time, with Terriers’ striker Wells having the only opening, but dragging his shot from inside the box harmlessly wide.

And so to penalties.

Yann Kermorgant, Danny Williams and Liam Kelly were all successful for the Reading, while Michael Hefele saw his penalty, which was Huddersfield’s second, saved, making it 3-2 to the Royals after three each.

But then Liam Moore blazed his over, Aaron Mooy found the net for Huddersfield, Ward saved from Obita and Schindler finished it, sending the Terriers into the top flight for the first time since 1972.



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Derby County win the Kinder+Sport Championship Kids Cup


Etwall Primary School were the Rams’ winning representatives, while Cedarwood Primary School were representing the Tractor Boys, in a match played at Wembley Stadium prior to the Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final.

Derby raced into an early lead, when Jack Perry was put clear, and he neatly finished beyond the goalkeeper from an acute angle.

It stayed 1-0 up until the break, and Ipswich came out firing on all cylinders, but the Rams defended doggedly to somehow keep the opposition at bay.

The Tractor Boys’ failure to make the pressure count eventually cost them, when captain Harry Hawkins struck a fierce effort into the bottom corner after his original effort from a free-kick was blocked.

With the final whistle imminent, Ipswich needed something special, and they got it. Reuben Swann, the Tractor Boys’ skipper, opted to go for goal straight from kick-off, and the ball managed to find its way into the net. However, the referee did blow for full-time immediately after, meaning it was Wembley glory for Derby.

The EFL Kids Cup, alongside the Girls Cup for under-13s, is sponsored by Ferrero’s Kinder+Sport programme. Encouraging children to be physically active and embrace the joy of moving is one of Ferrero’s key aims and core corporate social responsibility principles, both in the UK and globally. The Kinder+Sport programme is designed to promote active lifestyles through dynamic play and sports among children and their families, and has reached 15 million children in 27 countries to date.

In the UK, Kinder+Sport includes a number of initiatives. The Kinder+Sport Move and Learn programme is a national, school-based education programme delivered in partnership with The EFL Trust that helps children learn about the importance of a balanced diet and regular physical activity. Ferrero also partners with The EFL Trust to deliver two more national competitions, the Kinder+Sport Futsal Cup for the under-16 age group, and the Kinder+Sport Challenge Cup for the under-18s group.


 


Both competitions encourage children to get involved with sport and physical activity, whilst giving them a unique opportunity to play at football stadiums. Overall, in the academic year 2016/17, Kinder+Sport together with The EFL Trust will reach more than 47,000 children, helping them to be more active and learn about the benefits of an active lifestyle.

TEAMS

Derby County (represented by Etwall Primary): Leo Wilkinson (GK), Harry Hawkins (captain), Conor Livingstone, Aakish Shibu, Jack Perry, Ben Price, Sam Cheetham, Nick Dickens.

Ipswich Town: (represented by Cedarwood Primary): Theo Hume (GK), Davie Goffin, Regan Tuck, Josh Moore, Arun Maudhoo, Lushan Maudhoo, Harry Boon, Reuben Swann (captain)

Kits provided by Mitre.



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Sky Bet League Two Play-Off Final: Manager reaction


The victory sealed the Tangerines’ promotion back to Sky Bet League One after successive relegations, and it came in Gary Bowyer’s first season in charge.

The boss held the Play-Off Final silverware aloft 37 years to the day that his father, Ian Bowyer, lifted the European Cup as a Nottingham Forest player.

Read more – report: Cullen and Potts fire Blackpool to promotion

“This is an amazing feeling,” Bowyer junior beamed in the post-final press conference. “It was a massive team effort that will stay with the players and staff for a very long time.

“For us to achieve what we’ve done in under a year is fantastic. My main aim was to bring stability to the club. So what we’ve done is more than what I expected.

“We’ve laid the foundations now so we have to build on them. The immediate objective is to enjoy this moment and enjoy tonight.

“We’ll set about the business of competing in League One after.”

Bowyer’s side were hampered with injury throughout their Play-Off campaign, and it didn’t stop at Wembley.

After losing skipper Andy Taylor in the second leg of the semi-final against Luton, the Seasiders saw fellow defender Tom Aldred forced off in the first half at Wembley.

“The flexibility the players have shown is amazing,” Bowyer explained. “We had to reorganise at half-time and they carried it out to a tee. My players were immense.

“Mark Cullen made a big sacrifice for the team after we scored. We had to change our shape after we lost Tommy Aldred. He had to play in midfield so I’m delighted for Mark to get his goal, he’s found form at the right time for us.

“Credit must go to the players. People have had cheap shots at us, even when there has been positives, they’ve made it a negative. These players have just concentrated on the game and they’ve done the same again today.”

On the losing side was Paul Tisdale – the longest-serving manager in the EFL.

Despite suffering defeat, the Grecians’ gaffer couldn’t hide his delight in his team’s achievements this term having been bottom of the table in November.

“I’m proud of the players for the season we’ve had,” he admitted. “We will regret today’s result but we should be very pleased with what we’ve done this year.

“We gave ourselves the opportunity to be here today, unfortunately we didn’t take it, but now we have to look ahead to next year.

“It hurts, but I think we’ll have a couple of weeks to let it settle and then we’ll look to next year. This squad won’t change much in terms of personnel. They’re a good group and there’s lots of options in there and lots of young, developing players.”

On the performance, Tisdale was disappointed with his side’s incapability to break Blackpool down in the second period after David Wheeler had levelled just before the break.

“We were brilliant in the first half,” the manager added. “They took a hold of the game in the first 10 minutes of the second period and that changed the course of the game.

“We didn’t do our best in the last half hour, but its a tough environment to play in. The performance doesn’t always get the result. I’ve got no issues with how we played in the first half.

“We could have played better to get back into the game, but the boys tried particularly hard. We just didn’t quite know what to do.”



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Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final: Huddersfield Town v Reading


Here’s all you need to know about the two sides’ season so far as they prepare for what is billed as the most valuable game in world football

Sky Bet Championship – how they fared

The Terriers were written off in pre-season by many, but proved the doubters wrong when they flew out of the traps, losing just two of their first 11 league fixtures.

Included in that were wins over Newcastle United and Leeds United, but one of the teams to defeat them? Reading.

The consistency continued, though, and David Wagner’s men went on to secure a fifth-placed finish.

The Royals were the side to run the top two closest, finishing the season with 85 points, eight short of an automatic promotion spot.

The key to Jaap Stam’s side’s run to the play-offs was their fine home form. They racked up a massive 53 points at the Madejski Stadium – a figure only bettered by promoted Brighton & Hove Albion.

Huddersfield Town

Position: Fifth – 81 points


Goals: Scored 56, conceded 58


Stat: The Terriers drew the least amount of games in the Sky Bet Championship, sharing the points on only six occasions.

Reading

Position: Third – 85 points


Goals: Scored 68, conceded 64


Stat: Reading lost the least amount of home matches in the division, with only two teams leaving the Madejski with all three points.

Wembley – how they got there:

Reading took on Fulham in their semi-final, and the two teams were tied at 1-1 after the first leg at Craven Cottage. Jordan Obita was the man to get the goal, but the Royals were soon pegged back by Fulham skipper Tom Cairney.

At the Madejski, the match was settled by a Yann Kermorgant penalty and a stern defence as Reading secured their place at Wembley.

Huddersfield defeated Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday over two legs to reach Monday’s showpiece.

After the first leg ended in a goalless draw, the Terriers went a goal down at Hillsborough. But a Tom Lees own goal sent the tie to extra-time, and then penalties. On-loan stopper Danny Ward was the hero in the shoot-out, saving two penalties to win it for Wagner’s men.


 



Head-to-head

The two matches between the sides this season have been extremely tight with the home side taking the points with a 1-0 win on both occasions.

The duo first clashed in late September at the Madejski Stadium. Rajiv van la Parra was sent off early on for Huddersfield, and Roy Beerens scored just before the break to secure the three points for Reading.

Then, in February, an 82nd-minute Philip Billing winner gave the Terriers the three points, which at that stage, lifted them up to third, four points clear of Stam’s Royals.

Need to know

Reading are looking to secure promotion through the play-offs for the first time, having failed to make it through on each of the last five occasions they have participated (1995, 2001, 2003, 2009 and 2011).

Huddersfield are only the fourth EFL club to reach the final of the play-offs in all three divisions after Blackpool, Preston and Swansea. Only Blackpool have won all three.



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Cullen and Potts fire Blackpool to promotion


The victory, which was secured with goals from Brad Potts and Mark Cullen, means the Tangerines return to Sky Bet League One at the first time of asking, following back-to-back relegations.

With the ball hitting the back of the net 22 times in the semi-finals, goals were always expected in the showpiece, and Potts’ opener came after only 130 seconds – he finished coolly from the edge of the box following an exquisite Cullen lay-off.

Exeter’s equaliser, in the 40th minute, was just as impressive, as David Wheeler brought down a long ball before lobbing Blackpool goalkeeper Sam Slocombe.

The Grecians failed to maintain that momentum after the break, however, and it proved to be the Seasiders’ day. For their 64th-minute winner, Potts turned provider, cutting the ball across the six-yard line for an outstretched Cullen to poke home.

Paul Tisdale’s men huffed and puffed in an attempt to find a leveller but it wasn’t to be, and Gary Bowyer’s men ended two seasons of misery with Play-Off promotion.



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xxx win the Kinder+ Sport League Two Kids Cup


Newlaithes Junior were the Cumbrians’ winning representatives, while Trevelyan Middle were representing the Chairboys, in a match played prior to the Sky Bet League Two Play-Off Final.

Carlisle took the lead in style, when Cavan Dand nicked the ball past a defender and fired an unstoppable effort into the top corner from long range. The same player soon made it two, on hand to head home after another effort from distance deflected into his path.

In the second half, the game was wrapped up by Jack Glendinning, who slid in to poke the ball beyond the Wycombe goalkeeper.

TEAMS

Carlisle United (represented by Newlaithes Junior): Kieren Bain (GK), Charlie Parker (captain), Jack Glendinning, Orin Tobin, Robbie Wilson, Jack Dudley, Ellis Moore, Cavan Dand.

Wycombe Wanderers: (represented by Trevelyan Middle): Freddie Ramsden-Head (GK), James Miller, Stoyan Llkov (captain), Jack Arnold, Max Kingsman, Finlay Creffield, Lockie Lee, Thomas Biddulph-Dunlop.

Kits provided by Mitre.



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EFL Quiz: League Two Play-Off Finals



  • 28 May 2017
    Carlsile United win the…
    Carlisle United emerged victorious in the Kinder+Sport League Two Kids Cup Final, defeating Wycombe Wanderers 3-0 at Wembley Stadium.



  • Sky Bet EFL Play-Offs: Message for fans attending the finals

    27 May 2017
    Sky Bet EFL Play-Offs:…
    Enhanced security operation in place for Sky Bet EFL Play-Off Finals and plans to pay tribute to those affected by the tragic events in Manchester.



  • Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final: Wagner, Stam, Brown, Swift

    27 May 2017
    Sky Bet Championship…
    Huddersfield Town and Reading are set to battle it out in the Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final on Monday, and here’s what the managers and players have had to say in the build-up.



  • Sky Bet League Two Play-Off Final: Bowyer, Tisdale, Cullen, Reid

    27 May 2017
    Sky Bet League Two…
    Blackpool and Exeter City are set to battle it out in the Sky Bet League Two Play-Off Final, and here’s what the managers and players have had to say ahead of Sunday’s showpiece.



  • Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final: Official Matchday Programme

    27 May 2017
    Sky Bet Championship…
    The Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final between Huddersfield Town and Reading is fast approaching, and the matchday programme is on the printer ready for Monday’s showdown at Wembley.



  • Sky Bet League Two Play-Off Final: Official Matchday Programme

    27 May 2017
    Sky Bet League Two…
    The Sky Bet League Two Play-Off Final between Blackpool and Exeter City is upon us and the matchday programme is on the printer ready for a busy weekend at Wembley.




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    Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final: Wagner, Stam, Brown, Swift


    You can watch the game live on Monday 29th May live on Sky Sports, with kick-off at 3pm.

    David Wagner – Huddersfield Town manager:

    “It’s an honour for me and I’m proud to be part of this Terriers group who will be involved on Monday at three o’clock . This group totally deserve it for what they’ve done so far this season.

    “This is maybe a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our players. Usually a Huddersfield Town player wouldn’t have a chance of being involved in the Premier League. Now they have a real chance.”

    Jaap Stam – Reading manager:

    “When you start a job, you think you know the qualities of the players you have, but if you work with them and you take them out of their comfort zone, you see there is a lot more in them.

    “I love working with this team and with these players. They just need to believe in themselves and have confidence in what they can do.”

    Reading: Click here to read more from Jaap Stam

    Izzy Brown – Huddersfield Town attacker:

    “It’ll be an amazing experience for me to play in such a big game at such a young age, it still feels a bit surreal.

    “Sometimes at night when you’re just laying there, you think ‘imagine scoring a hat-trick at Wembley’ so the thoughts are there, but I just want to put work hard for the team and play well.”

    John Swift – Reading midfielder:

    “I went to watch Chelsea when they beat Portsmouth in the FA Cup final when I was there, and I went to Wembley with Swindon as a player when they got to the Play-Off Final, but unfortunately I wasn’t in the squad.

    “After that day, I just wanted to get there again, and hopefully this time it will be a good result.”

    Reading: Click here to read more from John Swift



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    Sky Bet League Two Play-Off Final: Bowyer, Tisdale, Cullen, Reid


    You can watch the Sky Bet League Two Play-Off Final on Sunday 28th May live on Sky Sports, with kick-off at 3pm.

    Gary Bowyer – Blackpool manager

    “This is the worst bit of the job when you’re having to pull people and tell them they’re not playing, or leaving them out of the squad. Because of what’s at stake this weekend, it’ll be even harder.

    “It’s about being honest with people and making the best selection that you see fit for the team. It’s a squad game and that’s what we’ve spoken about all season”

    Blackpool: Click here for more from Gary Bowyer

    Paul Tisdale – Exeter City manager



    “It’s such an important game but such a wonderful venue to play at. Everyone’s excited but we’ve got to get the balance right between the excitement of it all and winning a game of football.

    “You can take nothing for granted. You come through a semi-final and you’re as high as a kite, but you’ve still got one more game to go. I just urge the players to make the very most of it.”

    Mark Cullen – Blackpool striker

    “We haven’t achieved anything yet and we’ll be looking to complete the job. There’s a lot riding on it but the lads are focused on the job in hand.

    “You don’t get anything for getting to Wembley. You want to go there, play well and get promoted.”

    Blackpool: Click here for more from Mark Cullen

    Reuben Reid – Exeter City striker

    “I’m quite laid-back in nature, and I’m pretty calm. If I see anyone not being themselves, I’ll try and have a word and say ‘forget where we are, you’ve been doing it all season, just play your football.’

    “It’s a game with a lot of things at stake, but I’m trying to get my brain away from the fact it’s a big day out. It’s simply a game that we’ve got to go out and perform. It’s promotion or League Two.”



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    Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final: Official Matchday Programme


    It’s not only for fans at the ground, though. If you’re not one of the many supporters embarking on the capital for the showpiece, the programme is priced at £10 and you can get a copy by clicking here.

    There’s a range of player interviews inside the publication, as well as our Team of the Season, and all the facts and figures behind the 2016/17 Sky Bet Championship campaign.

    Among the players interviewed are Huddersfield fan favourite Michael Hefele and Reading defender Chris Gunter, as well as notes from both managers, David Wagner and Jaap Stam.

    This year marks the 30th anniversary of the EFL Play-Offs’ introduction to English football, and the matchday programme celebrates this by hearing from Rob Lee and Bobby Zamora, two people who have special stories to tell from the end-of-season showpiece.

    Buy your copy now!



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    Sky Bet League Two Play-Off Final: Official Matchday Programme


    If you’re not at the match and want a copy of the publication, fear not! You can purchase a copy by clicking here.

    There’s a range of player interviews inside the publication, as well as our Team of the Season, and all the facts and figures behind the 2016/17 Sky Bet League Two campaign.

    Among the players interviewed are Blackpool’s semi-final hero Mark Cullen and Exeter’s record-breaking winger David Wheeler, as well as notes from both managers, Gary Bowyer and Paul Tisdale.

    The EFL are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Play-Offs’ introduction to English football, and the matchday programme features stories from Adam Barrett and Bobby Barnes, who share their special memories from the end-of-season showdown.

    Buy your copy now!



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    Longest-serving manager Paul Tisdale set for Exeter City’s first EFL Play-Off Final


    The Wembley showdown will be the likeable manager’s 569th match in charge of the Devon club and if they chalk up win number 215 of his reign, Exeter will be back in Sky Bet League One for the first time since 2011/12.

    Last time they claimed their place in the third tier, they did so by finishing second in League Two in 2008/09, which came 12 months after they won the National League Play-Off Final.

    But this will be the first EFL Play-Off Final the club have played in and it is fitting that the iconic Tisdale will lead the Grecians out on this landmark occasion.

    Here’s the top 10 longest-serving EFL managers, ordered by date of appointment:

    RankManagerClubAppointed
    1Paul TisdaleExeter City06/06
    2
    Jim Bentley
    Morecambe
    05/11
    3
    Gareth Ainsworth
    Wycombe Wanderers
    09/12
    4
    Neal Ardley
    AFC Wimbledon
    10/12
    5
    Mick McCarthy
    Ipswich Town
    11/12
    6
    Keith Hill
    Rochdale
    01/13
    7
    Simon Grayson
    Preston North End
    02/13
    8
    Phil Brown
    Southend United
    03/13
    9
    Darrell Clarke
    Bristol Rovers
    03/14
    10Michael Appleton
    Oxford United
    07/14



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    Plymouth and Walsall recognised for Family Excellence


    The determined efforts to make Home Park and the Banks’ Stadium exciting and welcoming destinations for families have been recognised by the EFL for the 2016/17 season.

    Plymouth Argyle and Walsall have been added to the list of winners of the EFL’s Family Excellence Award, bringing the total number of clubs receiving the recommendation this season to a record-high of 53.

    The Family Excellence Awards is an ongoing programme aimed at using the experiences and perceptions of genuine football-loving families to help clubs develop strategies to attract and retain younger supporters.

    The detailed ‘snapshots’ provided by families who visit our 72 clubs are designed to enable clubs to see match day experiences through the eyes of a genuine family, helping clubs to improve fan experience and attract more families to their matches.

    The decision to grant both clubs the Award follows an additional review of the original applications, in line with the Award’s independent judging process and established criteria. Judges were impressed by Plymouth’s dedication to family engagement with the visiting family enjoying their vibrant Family Zone (complete with table football, games consoles and ping pong tables) and adjoining Family Room, a positive refreshments experience, really active Mascot and a noticeably family-friendly atmosphere within the stadium.

    Rick Cowdery, Plymouth Argyle’s Head Communications, said: “We are delighted that the EFL have awarded Argyle Family Excellence status for the 2016-17 season.

    “The EFL Family Excellence Award provides clubs with a standard to which to aspire and we pride ourselves on being a club at the heart of its community with its community at heart.

    “We strive to make Home Park a welcoming, friendly and innovative environment, from our regular Match-Day Magic events in the award-winning Family Zone for All to a complete takeover of one game every season by the local Devon Junior and Minor Football League.”

    Similarly the family visiting Walsall picked out numerous positives such as their enjoyable Family Fun Day and Family room, unique family area decoration, friendly club staff, a family-oriented and engaging matchday programme, a memorable refreshments experience, with the judges pointing to plenty of entertainment for children stretching beyond the ninety minutes of football.

    Walsall’s Director & Club Secretary, Daniel Mole, said: “We are delighted to receive the EFL’s Family Excellence Award. Here at Walsall Football Club we pride ourselves on the role we play within the community and have worked hard to create a positive, family-orientated matchday experience.

    “Offering free football to all under-18’s has been instrumental in our strategy to attract more and more families to the Banks’s Stadium. We are working hard over the summer months to continue to improve our matchday offering and are excited about a number of initiatives we are looking to implement that will help us maintain this Award.”

    The EFL recently announced its Family Excellence Awards winners for 2016/17.

    Winners: Click here to see all the clubs recognised for their Family Excellence



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    Sky Bet League Two Play-Off Final: Blackpool v Exeter City


    Twenty-two goals were scored across the four semi-final matches, so we’re set for a treat at Wembley. Here are some stats and facts ahead of the showdown…

    Sky Bet League Two – how they fared

    Exeter City were one of the stories of the EFL season when they secured their place in the play-offs, never mind at Wembley.

    Paul Tisdale’s side won only five fixtures before November and sat bottom after 17 matches, but they soon found their feet. They put together a 12-match unbeaten streak which included seven straight wins and made their way to a fifth-placed finish.

    Blackpool clinched the final League Two Play-Off spot by a point, thanks to victory on the final day. Their stern defence proved a catalyst for success this season, with only two teams conceding fewer goals than their 46 throughout the campaign.

    Blackpool

    Position: Seventh – 70 points


    Goals: Scored 69, conceded 46


    Stat: This is Blackpool’s seventh play-off final; more than any other team. No side has won more Play-Off Finals than the Tangerines (four, level with Crystal Palace).

    Exeter City

    Position: Fifth – 71 points


    Goals: Scored 75, conceded 56


    Stat: The side finishing fifth has won promotion just four times in the previous 30 seasons of the fourth tier play-offs. (Peterborough United in 2000, Cheltenham Town in 2006, Gillingham in 2009 and Southend United in 2015).

    Wembley – how they got there

    The Sky Bet League Two Play-Off semi-finals were action-packed and full of goals.

    Blackpool met third-placed Luton Town, firstly at Bloomfield Road. The match ended 3-2 to the Tangerines thanks to a Mark Cullen hat-trick.

    In the second leg, Gary Bowyer’s side were 3-1 down after an hour, but Armand Gnanduillet brought the tie level with 15 minutes to play, before an injury-time own goal sent the Seasiders to Wembley.

    Exeter met Carlisle in their semi-final, and it was a fixture where goals were expected – the Cumbrians had won 3-2 in both regular season meetings.

    The tie certainly lived up to the billing. The first leg finished 3-3 at Brunton Park, with Tisdale’s side pegged back after going 3-1 up.

    Exeter looked in control after an Ollie Watkins double left them 2-0 up with 10 minutes to play in the second leg. Carlisle scored two late goals to level, but Jack Stacey fired in a 95th-minute winner to ensure his side’s place in the final.


     



    Head-to-head

    Blackpool have won five of their last eight matches against Exeter, alongside a draw and two defeats, all in league competition.

    The two sides met on the opening day of the season at Bloomfield Road, with the hosts coming out on top thanks to a Kyle Vassell strike and a Troy Brown own goal.

    The return fixture ended in a 2-2 draw. The Grecians fought back from two goals down, with Reuben Reid rescuing a point with a 91st-minute equaliser. 

    Need to know

    Blackpool are visiting Wembley for the ninth time in their history. Since losing on their first two trips in 1948 and 1951, they’ve only lost one of their seven games (W3 D3). However, that defeat was in their last game at Wembley; a 2-1 loss against West Ham in the 2012 Championship Play-Off Final.

    Exeter are participating in their first EFL Play-Off Final, becoming the 80th different side to do so since their inception in 1987.



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    AFC Wimbledon to receive compensation fee for transfer of Will Mannion


    The young goalkeeper agreed to join Hull City last summer, although the matter was referred to a tribunal as the two clubs were unable to agree a compensation fee.

    The Committee met on Tuesday 16th May and decided:

    – Hull City must pay AFC Wimbledon an initial compensation fee of £100,000.

    – Additionally, Hull City are to pay a further sum of £25,000 on the player making 15, 30, 45 and 60 first team appearances – a potential further payment of £100,000.

    – The potential for international appearances has also been factored, with Hull City expected to pay £25,000 in the event that Will Mannion makes an appearance for England Under-21s and £200,000 for a full senior international appearance.

    – Finally, AFC Wimbledon will receive 20% of any profit made by Hull City in selling the player to another club at any point in the future.


     


    In setting these compensation fees, the PFCC takes into account the costs of developing the player, his age and playing record, the length of time he has been registered with his former club, the terms offered by both clubs, the status of the two clubs and the interest shown by other clubs in acquiring the registration of a player.

    In accordance with the rules of the EFL, and in agreement with the Premier League and The Professional Footballers’ Association, the PFCC is responsible for setting the compensation fee for players Under 24 where the club formerly holding his registration and the club next holding his registration fail to reach an agreement regarding compensation for training and development.


     


    The PFCC comprises of an independent Chairman, and an appointee from the EFL, the Premier League, The Professional Footballers’ Association and the League Managers’ Association.



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    New radio rights deals to maximise broadcast coverage for clubs and competitions


    Three-year agreements with talkSPORT and the BBC have been signed to secure high-profile broadcast platforms for all EFL clubs for the 2017/18 season onwards.

     

    talkSPORT have secured exclusive live commentary rights across the Sky Bet EFL and Sky Bet Play-Offs as well as non-exclusive rights to the Carabao Cup, which they will share with the BBC.

    Both outlets will have the ability to broadcast score flash updates across all three EFL Sky Bet divisions, the Carabao Cup and the Checkatrade Trophy.


     


    The agreement represents a significant increase on the combined rights fee in comparison to the existing arrangements and includes additional non-exclusive elements, ensuring that both broadcasters will be able to promote the EFL, its clubs, competitions and partners.


     


    Shaun Harvey, EFL Chief Executive, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to secure a national platform for all EFL clubs with the two main sports broadcasters in the UK.


     


    “talkSPORT and the BBC have both been long-time partners of the EFL and I look forward to working with them to maximise the potential coverage for all our clubs and competitions.


     


    “The increase we have achieved for our clubs represents tangible progress in a difficult market place and I truly believe this is a deal that not only benefits the EFL and our clubs, but also provides the best possible solution for supporters, partners and broadcasters alike.”


     


    The terms of the agreements include:


     

    talkSPORT

    – Non-exclusive rights to score flash updates across all three EFL Sky Bet divisions, the Carabao Cup and the Checkatrade Trophy.

    – Exclusive live commentary rights to up 110 EFL fixtures


            – Up to a maximum of 92 Championship fixtures

    – Exclusive live commentary rights for all matches included within the EFL Play-Offs across all three divisions

    – Non-exclusive right to transmit live match commentary of Carabao Cup matches throughout the competition, including the final

    – Exclusive rights to transmit live match commentary from Checkatrade Trophy matches


     

    BBC

    – Non-exclusive rights to score flash updates across all three EFL Sky Bet divisions, the Carabao Cup and the Checkatrade Trophy.

    – Non-exclusive right to transmit live match commentary of Carabao Cup matches throughout the competition, including the final.


     


    The EFL’s existing agreements with BBC and talkSPORT are due to expire following the completion of this season’s Sky Bet Play-Offs.



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