Known as the richest game in football, Huddersfield Town and Reading had themselves a rather tense and tight day out at Wembley on Monday. With £170m and promotion to the Premier League on the line, and with neither team truly excelling consistently during the season — Reading certainly the more in-form side in the second-half of the season however — the focus on not giving up goals was only understandable.
There was Chelsea interest on both sides, with both teams utilizing current of former Chelsea youngsters as their creative threats: John Swift for Reading and Izzy Brown for Huddersfield. Kasey Palmer, making his first appearance since a hamstring injury in February, replaced his fellow loanee Brown in the first-half of extra time.
Brown had perhaps the best chance of the game, missing a far-post tap in in the first half when it looked easier to score; Palmer created perhaps the best chance of the second-half, setting up Nahki Wells five minutes from time only for the striker to fire wide. Both midfielders were key during the season (Palmer in the first-half of the season before his injury; Brown since joining in January) to get the Terriers this far.
And so, after 120 minutes of rather unimpressive football, the match was to be decided in a penalty kick shootout. Reading scored their first three but missed their last two, and as Huddersfield’s Christopher Schindler rolled his effort into the bottom corner past the despairing dive of Ali Al-Habsi, the Terriers were back in the top flight for the first in 45 years and for the first time since the inception of the Premier League.
Huddersfield, three-time winners of the former First Division (in 1924, ‘25, and ‘26) were in the fourth division and in administration 14 years ago. What a story!
Congrats to coach David Wagner (U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!), to Izzy Brown and Kasey Palmer, and all the rest of Huddersfield. Welcome to the Premier League!