Looking to fortress Bramall Lane

Blades players clap fans after Exeter draw
Blades players clap fans after Exeter draw
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So far it’s not been the outcome I wanted as a former Blades player and fan, but I have to start by congratulating Sheffield Wednesday. From the first week of doing this column, I’ve been wary of them having a way of playing that was suited to getting out of League One. Wednesday have a lot of power and pace in the team, they’re good at set pieces and there’s been no let-up from them.

Now it’s about Sheffield United joining them in the Championship. It’s not as if they’ve slipped up in a bad way. What is it, one defeat in 12? It’s just that Wednesday have kept on winning, week in and week out.

When you look at the stats, the Blades have done fantastically well and in many ways are very unlucky to miss automatic promotion on 90 points.

All the problems seem to have come at once. The Ched Evans situation is well documented and now James Beattie is out for the play-offs. But I made a point here recently that scoring goals wasn’t entirely down to the strikers and there was a need for others to step up to the plate. That seems to be happening. Matt Lowton, Lee Williamson and Kevin McDonald were all on target in the last two games of the league season.

People who said United were a one man team should check out that that they have scored four in those two matches. The other came from Richard Cresswell, who is showing his character and courage by playing on despite a shoulder injury. It’s now a case of where needs must, so I’d imagine we’ll see Cressy and Chris Porter as the main - if not only - partnership.

Maybe that will lead to a slight change of style. United will probably have to get the ball up to the front earlier with those two in the team. There are similarities in that both are strong, physical types. It may not be a bad thing. The team went more direct towards the end of the 2-2 draw with Stevenage and almost forced a win playing that way. By the way, the crowd stayed with them and created an atmosphere that would have changed the whole promotion picture if the third goal had come.

Once again, the fans will have a major role in the play-offs, particularly in the second leg at home on Monday. Make no mistake, it’s a tricky tie as United have failed to get the better of Stevenage so far this season. The experienced players will have to come to the fore and set a standard for resilience.

You’d expect the first game to be tough and tight but I’m looking to fortress Bramall Lane on Monday night. I notice that only Wednesday have topped United’s 16 home wins this season. One more and we’ll all be dreaming of a double promotion party in Sheffield.

@deanobri1968 was talking to @AlanBiggs1. Next week: Lee Bullen (@BullenFootball) rounds up the Owls’ glorious season.