Sheffield United: Rival matches will decide Blades fate

Injury concern: Jamie Murphy suffers against Stevenage.                                                  Picture: martyn harrison
Injury concern: Jamie Murphy suffers against Stevenage. Picture: martyn harrison
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SHEFFIELD United have to be wary of not gaining a fast-track bully reputation.

Danny Wilson’s charges, more often than not, brush aside teams in the bottom half of League One with a minimum of fuss.

However, their record against the heavyweight sides of the division is distinctly average. In 14 matches versus top 10 sides this season, the Bramall Lane outfit have triumphed just five times, picking up 21 points from a possible 42 on offer.

United have twice drawn with league leaders Doncaster Rovers this season while second-placed Brentford, who they entertain on Saturday, kick-off 12.45pm, defeated Wilson’s men 2-0 last November.

Rejuvenated Bournemouth lost both their meetings with the Blades 5-3 and, most recently, 1-0 at Deans Court courtesy of Jamie Murphy’s strike. The Scottish forward, United’s marquee signing of the January transfer window from Motherwell, limped off only nine minutes into last week’s clash at Stevenage after hurting his hamstring. Murphy is a big doubt to play this weekend.

Fellow promotion contenders Swindon Town and Yeovil Town have also taken points off United. At the County Ground, Wilson’s side were held to a goalless draw whilst a second-half double from Paddy Madden helped Yeovil sink the Blades 2-0.

Of United’s remaining nine fixtures, four of them are against sides involved in the promotion shake-up. If the club are to miss out on the play-off lottery again and achieve a top-two finish, a good points haul from these matches is essential.

Last year, United endured a difficult time against fellow promotion-chasing clubs. Charlton, Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield MK Dons and Stevenage all made the end-of-season top six and the Blades, beaten by Huddersfield on penalties in the Play-Off Final, registered just two wins versus their rivals.

Did you know? The 4-0 drubbing at Stevenage was the joint heaviest defeat of Wilson’s reign. United have been beaten by the same scoreline by Birmingham City and Reading in the FA Cup.