The Big Match Preview: - Sheffield United (A)
United keep coming close but just haven’t had whatever is missing to see them promoted to the Championship. Beaten in the play-offs a couple of seasons ago by Yeovil Town, they missed out on the top six last season; a disappointment for the Blades but Nigel Clough’s men were recovering from an uncharacteristically poor start to the campaign under the management of David Weir. Expectation this season would probably have been to challenge for automatic promotion, though that hasn’t quite panned out, they will almost certainly be involved in the lottery of the play-offs once again.
Last Time Out:
Yeovil Town 1-0 Sheffield United – 18/04/15 at Huish Park
Line-Up: Howard, Brayford, Basham, Freeman, Holt, Coutts, Doyle, Scougall (Baxter 73), Flynn (Alcock 46), Davies (Murphy 40 – Y), Done
Current League Position
Sheffield United are currently 5th in League One and are there comfortably. They are just a point in front of Chesterfield, but they are very unlikely to be caught by Rochdale in 7th who can mathematically still reach 72 points, should they win all their four remaining games. United are on 68 points. A win for the Blades this weekend, paired with anything less for Rochdale, and their place in the play-offs will be confirmed.
A mid-week loss to relegated Yeovil could come into Nigel Clough’s thoughts when picking the team. Influential duo Jamie Murphy and Jose Baxter both started the game on the bench in mid-week and they could both come in to start at the weekend. Clough has bemoaned injury problems and forward Steven Davies could be struggling to be fit for the weekend’s fixture (foot) as well as winger Ryan Flynn (hamstring).
Andrew Davies could come back into contention for this big local derby, having been out since the Oldham home fixture 3 weeks ago with a hamstring injury; Phil Parkinson confirmed that this is a strong possibility. There could be more changes to the team as Phil Parkinson ponders the consequence to a home hammering by Bristol City earlier in the week. Andy Halliday seems to have shaken off an injury that has kept his game time limited in recent weeks, so he could stake a claim for a start at Bramall Lane.
Last Meetings with Sheffield United:
Our last meeting with the Blades was back in October at the Coral Windows Stadium in front of the Sky Cameras and it was the visitors who went home happy. Stephen Darby was sent off for a second bookable offence just seconds into the second half for a foul on Jamie Murphy and then Bob Harris curled in a spectacular strike to give his side the lead. Against the run of play, and with City pressing for an equaliser, Marc McNulty ran through to seal the points late on.
The last trip to Bramall Lane was back in January 2014 and at half time things were looking gloomy with Jamie Murphy and Harry Maguire having the hosts comfortably ahead at the break. 63 minutes in though, and the lead was squandered, with goals from Gary Jones and James Hanson rescuing a point in a dramatic Yorkshire derby.
Sheffield United’s Recent Form
14/04/15 | Yeovil Town 1-0 Sheffield United | League One | L
11/04/15 | Oldham Athletic 2-2 Sheffield United | League One | D
07/04/15 | Sheffield United 3-2 Doncaster Rovers | League One | W
04/04/15 | Barnsley 0-2 Sheffield United | League One | W
28/03/15 | Sheffield United 1-2 Crewe Alexandra | League One | L
Although there are three players joint on 12 goals each; Jose Baxter, Marc McNulty, and Jamie Murphy, Matt Done has 10 for the Blades, despite only joining the club in January from Rochdale. 14 goals in all competitions for Rochdale, means Matt has 24 goals in all competitions this season to date, and will be one of the key threats in the Blades line-up, should he feature on Saturday. With 17 league goals, he is three behind the league’s leading trio of Joe Garner, Ian Henderson and Andy Williams and will be hoping for a strong finish to the season.
Prior to joining Rochdale from Barnsley in 2013, he had had a previous spell at Rochdale. He began his career in 2005 with Wrexham before a 2008 move to Hereford United. After a couple of years at Edgar Street, he moved north to Spotland in 2010 for his first spell with the club.
Ref Watch – Graham Scott
Oxfordshire referee Graham Scott will be in charge of his 40th game of the season on Saturday at Bramall Lane. His last match was the televised 1-1 draw between Derby County and Brentford in the Championship. In 39 games to date, he has dished out 126 yellow cards and just 3 reds. The ratio is 3.2 yellow cards per game, and just 0.07 red cards per game.
The last Bradford City match that he officiated was the Capital One Cup 2nd round victory against Leeds United back in August. He brandished red that day, as United’s Luke Murphy was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence, following a rash challenge on James Meredith.
The bookies have Sheffield United down as odds on favourite to come out of the fixture with the maximum, the draw is the second likeliest outcome according to www.skybet.com with a City win an outside bet. Fancy the Bantams down in South Yorkshire on Saturday? A £10 bet would return £42; food for thought?
Sheffield United – 17/20
Draws – 5/2
Bradford – 16/5
Odds subject to change.