Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough believes the experience of facing Tottenham Hotspur over two legs will stand his team in good stead when they stage the first instalment of their League One play-off semi-final against Swindon Town on Thursday evening, writes James Shield.
United gave Mauricio Pochettino’s side a huge scare over two legs in the last four of the Capital One Cup four months ago when, after Che Adams had scored twice, only a late goal from Christian Eriksen prevented the tie from entering extra-time.
With the race for Wembley settled over exactly the same format, Clough said: “We have experienced players. The one lesson we learnt from Spurs is we were 1-0 down from the first leg and then 1-0 down here as well. But we didn’t let it get worse and we got back in the game with a couple of quick goals.
“Even late on, that can happen. It just goes to show that, in these situations, you’ve got to keep your cool and your focus because things can change in an instant.
“It is very rare you can win a tie in that first 45 minutes or even 90 minutes. We know that as well as anyone.”
United host Town, who finished a place and eight points above them in the table, later this week before visiting the County Ground on Monday evening. Clough’s squad secured fifth position when they drew 1-1 with Chesterfield, in sixth, last weekend. United’s neighbours and fellow promotion contenders were subsequently paired with Preston North End.
Town were beaten 2-0 at Bramall Lane in January, 72 hours after United’s 3-2 aggregate defeat by Spurs. That result saw Clough’s charges avenge September’s 5-2 defeat in Wiltshire.
“We know what we have to do,” Clough said. “We’ve got to stay concentrated and professional at all times.
“We’ve faced this challenge before and hopefully that will help.”