THERE was no pomp, ceremony or puffs of white smoke, writes James Shield.
Instead Sheffield United announced their intention to take charge of tomorrow’s League One fixture with Stevenage, and possibly the division itself, with a minimum of fuss at Shirecliffe yesterday.
“We know they’re a tough and physical team but they’ve had a bit of a wobble,” Matt Hill, the United defender, said. “So if we can score first then that will give us confidence and hopefully them some seeds of doubt.
“But they’ll be up for it though. They’ll view this as an opportunity, the perfect game, to turn their season around.”
Far from experiencing a bit of a wobble, Stevenage have fallen off a cliff in recent months with a run of eight defeats in nine outings hurtling them down the table.
Nevertheless, Gary Smith’s side have beaten the likes of Brentford, Yeovil Town and MK Dons since August. Not to mention holding leaders Doncaster Rovers to a creditable draw.
United, who remained second despite seeing their midweek match at Crewe Alexandra postponed due to a frozen pitch, beat Stevenage 4-1 in November.
Chris Porter, who has returned to Bramall Lane following a loan spell with Shrewsbury Town, was on target during that match and also scored the winner during the second-leg of last season’s play-off semi-final between these two teams.
“I’m not sure what’s gone on at Stevenage,” Hill said. “I’m not worried about it either because it’s really not my concern.
“But I’m sure teams respect them a lot more now. They saw how well Stevenage did when they first came up and they’ll take them a lot more seriously.
“We’ve never taken anything against them for granted though. They are always opponents that you’ve got to work ever so hard against.”
Wilson, who allowed youngster Jordan Chapell to join Torquay on a temporary basis earlier this week, insisted Porter had benefited from his spell at Greenhous Meadow.
“We know we couldn’t afford to be a body short during the run-in,” Wilson said.