The first legs in the Championship semi-final play-offs took place on Saturday afternoon, with the Midlands clash of Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion first into action at 12.30pm in Villa Park. Glenn Whelan started in midfield for the hosts and his error after fifteen minutes led to the visitors taking the lead. Whelan, who otherwise had a fine match, was replaced by the more attack minded Conor Hourihane after sixty seven minutes and the change paid dividends as he struck the equaliser eight minutes later with a sublime left foot shot from twenty yards. Three minutes later, Villa took the lead from an undisputed penalty for a 2-1 victory. The second leg is set for the Hawthorns at 7.45pm on Tuesday evening.
The first leg in the second semi-final took place at Pride Park later on Saturday afternoon where Derby County, skippered by Richard Keogh, went down to a one nil defeat by Leeds United. The second leg is set for Elland Road at 7.45pm on Wednesday evening.
The first leg of the League One semi-final play-off between Sunderland and Portsmouth took place in the Stadium of Light this Saturday evening with the hosts prevailing by one goal to nil. Aiden McGeady was forced to withdraw following the recurrence of his leg injury during the pre-match warm up while Burnley loanee Jimmy Dunne was introduced from the substitute Bench on seventy minutes. Ronan Curtis, named in Mick McCarthy’s Ireland Training Squad this week, started for the visitors but was withdrawn on sixty nine minutes. The two sides were very familiar having faced each other in the League just two weeks ago and also having clashed in the EFL Trophy Final at Wembley four weeks earlier. They will get to know each other even more when the second leg takes place in Fratton Park on Thursday next.
The first leg of the second League One semi-final play-off between Doncaster Rovers and Charlton Athletic kick-off at 12.15pm on Sunday afternoon in the Keepmoat Stadium. West Ham United loanee Josh Cullen, who was also named in Mick McCarthy’s Ireland Training Squad this week, continued his excellent season long form for the visiting ‘Addicks’ as they secured a two one advantage for the second leg at the Valley next Friday evening. Kieran Sadlier was in the starting eleven for the hosts but could make little impression.
There is also Irish interest and involvement in the League Two play-off scenario.
The first leg in semi-final one took place at Rodney Parade this Thursday evening with Newport County playing host to Mansfield Town. Former Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers striker Padraig Amond and defender Mark O’Brien were key performers for the hosts, while the visitors included goalkeeper Conrad Logan and Stoke City loanee Ryan Sweeney in their starting eleven. The contest ended in a one all draw with Amond converting his late penalty after Logan had initially blocked the kick.
The second leg of this semi-final took place early on Sunday evening and ended scoreless. With the traditional away goal rule not in use for these play-offs, the contest went to a penalty shoot-out where Newport County prevailed by five goals to three with Padraig Amond among the successful scorers. Mark O’Brien was again in defence for the victors while Conrad Logan and loanee Ryan Sweeney were on the losing side.
The second semi-final first leg took place at Prenton Park on Friday evening with Tranmere Rovers scoring the only goal to defeat Forest Green Rovers who included the much travelled defender Gavin Gunning in their side, but he was dismissed after just fifteen minutes for violent conduct.
The second leg of this semi-final is set for The New Lawn at 7.45pm on Monday evening.