A fighting spirit, goals scored and smiling faces - that summed up Sheffield United’s most recent victory, against Bradford City, and it’s what Blades fans will be hoping to see more of as we edge towards 2016.
Due to the sheer desperation to gain promotion this season and the team’s inability to turn in performances that reflected the summer optimism, there had unsurprisingly been something of a cloud hovering over Bramall Lane up until a month ago.
Since then, with the 4-2 defeat at home to Shrewsbury now turning out to be something of a watershed, there has has a distinct contrast in mood at S2.
Immediately after that loss, United were a minute away from grinding out a 1-0 win over Barnsley, but for a fabulous strike from Conor Hourihane to salvage a point at Oakwell. However, it represented a switch in tact, a new display of physicality, that put battling qualities to the forefront and spawned 1-0 victories over Oldham, Coventry and Scunthorpe.
And when the Bantams rolled into South Yorkshire, the Blades had found the balance they had strived for - grit and goals. And perhaps that was exemplified by Conor Sammon, who came on to replace Matt Done, missed an easy chance but knocked in the crucial second goal after the break.
“It was a great response from Conor,” said Adkins. “He missed one from Billy (Sharp’s cross) but scored from Paul (Coutts). Bradford have got an excellent defensive record, the second best in the league I think, but we scored three against them out there.”
And goals weren’t the only thing to bring pleasure to the Bramall Lane faithful.
Some of the football played was superb and at no point did they let go of the physical side of the game that has become so important.
Adkins added: “There was a 25 minute spell when the supporters were enjoying it and the players were too. The lads were assertive and that’s what you need.
“What was really pleasing, other than the result of course, was the resilance and the grit. They were all having a real go for each other.”