DCSIMG

Clough counts cost of cup joy

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Nigel Clough hailed one of his best nights in management, as Sheffield United reached the last 16 of the FA Cup with a last-gasp win at Fulham.

But Tuesday evening’s extra-time victory may have come at a price, with a number of Clough’s charges now rated as doubtful for Saturday’s return to League One action, against Shrewsbury Town at Bramall Lane.

By the time substitute Shaun Miller had stooped to head home, after Harry Maguire had met Stephen McGinn’s corner, in the last minute of injury time at Craven Cottage, Clough’s men had their lead over bottom club Stevenage to just one point, after their 3-1 win over Gillingham.

And while Clough admitted the win was “the stuff dreams are made of”, he made a point of reminding his players that they must take their cup form into the league - starting on Saturday, against Graham Turner’s fellow League One strugglers.

“It was a lovely result and it was great to win,” Clough said.

“I’ve had some special FA Cup moments in my career, but that was right up there with the best of them.

“To restrict a top-flight side to so few chances, while maintaining a threat of our own and creating the best chances, was remarkable, and I’m so proud of them.

“But without a doubt, we need to take that form into the league now and we reminded the players of that after the Fulham win.

“It was a great night but the league remains a priority, and we’ve got to follow this up with three points against Shrewsbury now.

“Nothing else matters.”

United’s second cup shock of the season came at a price, though, as Bob Harris, Chris Porter and Stefan Scougall were all withdrawn due to injury.

Clough, who revealed his side had taken inspiration from Chelsea’s victory over Manchester City on Monday night - “We told the players to watch the best players in the world doing there thing... you try in some small way to model yourselves on them” - is confident that Porter will be fit to make the squad after sustaining a slight knock to his hamstring.

“Hopefully Chris will be okay for Saturday, but I am fearful for a few others,” the United boss admitted.

“We’ll do as little as possible in the build up to the game, to give lads like Stefan, Jamie Murphy and Ryan Flynn every chance of recovering and making the game.”

Clough, who named teenage starlets Diego De Girolamo and Conor Dimaio on the bench against Fulham, will continue with his policy of giving graduates of the club’s Redtooth Academy matchday experience - but will press ahead with his plans to bring in a couple of players when the emergency loan market reopens for business.

Billy Clarke is one name thought to feature prominently on his wish-list - although Miller’s first goal since his cruciate knee ligament injury in December 2012 will have been a welcome sight

“It was a fantastic personal moment for me,” Miller said.

“I was delighted to get a goal for my baby son, who was born a couple of weeks ago, and of course it was my first since I came back from injury.

“We have had a mentality of staying strong and not conceding in the cup, and if we don’t concede we don’t lose games.

“Now we need to take that into the league... starting on Saturday against Shrewsbury.”

 

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