Sheffield United: Striker intent on starring in his own Wembley thriller

Marc MCNulty (right) is congratulated by Jay McEveley after scoring against Chesterfield
Marc MCNulty (right) is congratulated by Jay McEveley after scoring against Chesterfield

Marc McNulty has had a gutful of Stefan Scougall’s Wembley tales, writes James Shield.

So, as Sheffield United prepare to embark upon another play-off campaign, the former Livingston centre-forward is determined to create a few of his own.

“Stefan does mention it a bit,” McNulty, referring to last season’s FA Cup semi-final, said. “I watched the game back up in Scotland and it was one of those where I wish I could have been there.

“There had been rumours about me coming to Sheffield so I was a bit gutted as who doesn’t want to play in games like that.

“I know the club didn’t win but the experience must have been great. And to do as well as they did was something to be proud about.

“Now we are so close and I want to be able to get there myself.”

McNulty and Scougall worked alongside each other at Almondvale Stadium before the latter’s move to Bramall Lane, three months before that 5-3 defeat by Hull City, briefly severed a partnership which was resurrected when the 22-year-old followed him to South Yorkshire last summer.

McNulty, who is expected to be named in the squad which hosts Swindon Town tomorrow evening as they battle to reach League One’s showpiece event on May 24, scored his 13th goal since joining Nigel Clough’s side against fellow promotion contenders Chesterfield last weekend.

“Coming down here was always going to be a big step up,” McNulty said. “I knew it would be tough to score goals and tough to get in the team at such a big club.

“But I did feel confident that if I played then I was good enough to score goals. If you had offered me 13 at the start of the season, though, I would have bitten your hand off.

“The learning curve has been a big one. I had played at Livingston for a couple of years and was maybe in my comfort zone. So, this has been a massive step up.

“And not just on a Saturday, I mean training in the week as well. The pace is a lot more demanding compared to what I had been used to.”

McNulty, who progressed through the ranks at Hibernian and Celtic before joining the Scottish Championship club in 2009. Highlights during his first season south of the border include wins over Southampton and Queens Park Rangers in the Capital One and FA cups. Experiences which, speaking ahead of the semi-final first leg against Swindon, McNulty predicted should serve United well going forward.

“As a team, we have shown in the cups as to what we can do in these sort of games,” he said. “The play-offs replicate that a little bit.

“The boys are confident that we can do the same in the play-offs as we have the cups. We know what is at stake and, because of what we’ve done in the cups, we aren’t going into the unknown in terms of these games which is good. We’ve faced similar challenges before and can fall back on that.

“Swindon is a big game but all know our jobs. We can’t have any passengers and everyone needs to be on their game.”

“We played Spurs (in the Capital One Cup semi-final) and went 2-0 down early in the second leg,” McNulty added. “But we didn’t panic and stuck to our jobs.

“That shows if the worst does happen and we fall behind, we won’t lose heart. Over two legs, anything can happen in a split second to change things.

“Against Spurs, we were 2-0 down but then got level in just a few minutes. The boys are confident.”

Twitter: @JamesShield1

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