With all four sides involved in the Championship play-offs having sat resolutely in their league positions for the closing stages of the campaign, its safe to say the predicted outcomes of the semi-finals aren’t as clear cut as previous seasons.

Ahead of Luton Town meeting Huddersfield and Sheffield United facing Nottingham Forest, we preview both of the Championship play-off semi-final first-leg ties below.

Luton Town v Huddersfield

Having played National League football only seven years ago, Luton concluded a relatively turbulent period in their history by topping off an impressive season with a win at home to Reading last week after a memorable first-half goal for Harry Cornick.

Responding to a mid-week battering from Fulham, Nathan Jones’ side knew they could guarantee their play-off fate with a win, doing just that and finishing five points above seventh-placed Middlesborough, who had been knocking on the play-off door for some time.

Three more wins for the Hatters would secure the first promotion to the Premier League in the club’s history and mark the first season back in the top-flight since 1992. The prospect of promotion has the potential to make them the club with the smallest stadium of any Premier League club ever, sitting at over 1,000 less than Bournemouth’s 11,700.

Luton are certainly the underdogs in this contest having been priced at 6/4  to reach the final, despite having home advantage in the first leg.

Meanwhile, Huddersfield, who won all of their remaining four games, are 1/2 favourites to make it to the final after scoring 12 times in their last six games, finishing the season in third position, the most common position for eventual play-off winners.

Pushing into the lucky third spot on the final day of the season thanks to goals against Bristol City from Harry Toffolo and striker Danny Ward – who is 9/2 to be first goal scorer and 12/1 to score more than one on Friday – Huddersfield have won promotion from all three EFL divisions before and will be looking to continue with their winning momentum against Luton.

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Sheffield United v Nottingham Forest

Perhaps the more eagerly anticipated fixtures of the draw, the European Cup-winning Nottingham Forest take on the resurgent Sheffield United, with both sides looking to reclaim their former top-flight glory.

Forest, who missed out on an automatic promotion place on the penultimate day of the season to Bournemouth, look to bounce back and continue building on the exciting attacking football they have played all campaign.

Their manager Steve Cooper hopes to make it second time lucky in the play-offs, having lost the final with Swansea last year, and is priced at 4/7 to get his team through the tie.

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom, however, has consistently proved he can win under the greatest of pressures, having been successful in three play-off finals in his career, twice as a player and once as a manager.

Heckingbottom is 13/10 to lead the Blades to another final here.

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