LIVE television coverage, a sell-out crowd and two teams knowing the result could have a crucial bearing on which division they are competing in next season.
Tomorrow’s fixture between Sheffield United and Stevenage at Bramall Lane is a great match to win. And a terrible one to lose.
“Atmospheres like this either inspire you or destroy you,” Danny Wilson, the United manager, admitted yesterday. “It goes without saying that, for us, I’m hoping it’s the former.”
United have prepared for their meeting with Gary Smith’s side knowing that, if third-placed Sheffield Wednesday are beaten by Brentford earlier in the day, victory would make them mathematically certain of finishing as runners-up behind champions Charlton Athletic.
Of course, should Dave Jones’ men triumph at Griffin Park, then a draw or defeat would see their arch-rivals hijack the box seat ahead of next month’s final round of games.
“The way I see it,” Wilson continued, “And the way my players must see it too is that being in this position gives them a chance of going down in the history books of this club.
“Of being part of its folklore and, when you look at the rich tapestry of players who have been here down the years. Who wouldn’t be proud to do that?
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s about how we perform.
“If we perform as we can then there are very few teams in this division who can live with us.”
Unfortunately for United they encountered one of those – MK Dons – in Buckinghamshire last weekend where a lethargic first-half display contributed to a defeat which saw their lead over Wednesday whittled down to a point.
United’s margin for error is uncomfortably slim. But the potential for glory still huge.
Wilson, who hopes to name striker Richard Cresswell in his starting 11 following injury, said: “We know we are still in a very good position and we hope to endorse that against Stevenage.
“We won’t offer any excuses. We won’t make
any as we go along. What we are focusedon is three points. Whatever happens elsewhere, that doesn’t change.”
Despite their disappointing afternoon at stadium:mk, United enter tomorrow evening’s contest in a rich vein of form having won six of their previous seven games.
Stevenage, who are sixth, head north looking to move a step closer towards securing League One play-off qualification by registering a fourth straight success.
“I’ve got no concerns whatsoever about the character of my lads,” Wilson insisted. “We’ve had defeats before and we always got over them.
“If anyone has any doubts about how my lads are feeling or their mindset then they should have watched them in training because that would have answered their questions.
“They’re bright, sharp and focused.”
Teams and ref
UNITED (possible): Simonsen, Lowton, Maguire, Collins, Hill, Williamson, Doyle, McDonald, Quinn, Porter, O’Halloran (4-4-2).
STEVENAGE (possible): Day, Lascelles, Roberts, Ashton, Laird, Byrom, Bostwick, Wilson, Reid, Freeman, Agyemang (4-4-2).
Andy D’Urso: Will be making his first visit to Bramall Lane since April last year tomorrow. The Essex based official, who averages 2.75 cautions per game this season, sent off Harry Maguire as Sheffield United overcame Bristol City. Jason Roberts became the eighth player D’Urso has dismissed during the 2011/12 campaign last weekend.
One to watch
All eyes will be on Jordan Slew when he makes his first return to Bramall Lane since joining Blackburn Rovers earlier this term. The young striker, who was loaned to Stevenage in January, has yet to score for the Hertfordshire club. Indeed, he last hit the target during Sheffield United’s win over Brentford in August.
Stevenage won the first ever meeting between these two teams earlier this term. Mark Roberts scored for the hosts before Scott Laird’s late penalty cancelled out Ched Evans’ equaliser for Sheffield United.