Bluffer's guide to the play-offs: Huddersfield Town
Next up in our Bluffer’s Guide series is Charlie Johnson, a Huddersfield Town fan, ahead of the Terriers’ second consecutive attempt to gain promotion from League One via the play-offs.
Feeling confident? How’s your form?
I’m never overly confident going into such an important set of games, but I’m certainly expecting more than I did going into last years play-offs. Our form has been superb, 25 games unbeaten built around a good defence, a strong work ethic and a never-say-die attitude.
Up to now, would you judge your season so far as a success or did you have an eye on the automatic spots?
It’ll only be a real success if we now go on and get promoted. To be as many points ahead of our nearest rivals suggests we’re the best team in this shoot-out competition so it’s a touch disappointing to be having to go through the play-offs now. Our eyes were certainly on automatic promotion, and if we’d managed to convert a couple of draws into wins then we’d be up by now.
Did you have the upper hand over your semi-final opponents in the games you’ve played against them already this season?
Two draws in which we never truly had the upper hand, and Bournemouth are a team I can never really remember Huddersfield being too good against. Since we played them last though, our form has improved whereas theirs has dipped somewhat.
Do you think your players have a big-game mentality? Will they step up?
In last year’s away leg at Millwall, our young players froze entirely and were picked apart easily by a strong Lions side. This year we have players who have played in big games and have genuine quality. Players like Kevin Kilbane, Ian Bennett, Gary Naysmith and Peter Clarke all have big game experience and will be very important over the two legs.
Who will be your key man?
Our success, despite the four goals conceded against Brentford on the last day, has been built on a solid and committed defence, and no man has been more vital in this than our skipper Peter Clarke. Never less than a 100% committed and a very strong character, he’ll have to be at his best over the two legs to ensure we have a strong base to build on and give ourselves a chance.
Who is the semi-final opposition’s dangerman?
I have always perceived that Bournemouth’s success was built around a strong team ethic, fostered by their young manager Eddie Howe, and I’d have said before he left that he was their main man. Howe having now gone, I’d say we’ll have to keep an eye on Danny Ings who looks a very good prospect.
If you get through, who would you prefer in the final?
I’d rather play MK Dons having already comfortably beaten them twice this season. Peterborough have caused us numerous problems both times we’ve played them.
Who’s going to score your winning goal in the final…?