SHEFFIELD United have talked a good game of late but struggled to translate those words into positive results.
So Danny Wilson, their usually undemonstrative manager, can be forgiven a rare foray into the world of hyperbole after watching his team arrest a miserable run of form which had threatened to erode both their confidence and grip on an automatic promotion slot.
This victory might not quite fall into the “mega” category - as Wilson claimed afterwards - but given the state of play to
wards the summit of the League One table it was certainly significant.
United, keeping a resurgent Sheffield Wednesday at bay, head to Colchester tomorrow still occupying second place and knowing that a first ever win at the Weston Homes Community Stadium would see them move four points clear of their arch-rivals in third.
However, Ched Evans, who predictably emerged as the visitors’ match-winner, insisted his colleagues are focusing their energies on chasing leaders Charlton Athletic rather than nervously eyeing the neighbours.
“Why can’t we catch them? We know it will be difficult but that’s what were are going to try and do,” he said. “I’m still confident that it’s possible and I know the rest of the lads are as well. It’s much better to watch what’s going on in front of us rather than worry about behind.
“If we can do well in our next one then that will move us closer to them (Charlton) and put some daylight between us and the rest as well.
“Beating Brentford was really important for us because they’re really tough opponents and it means no one is going to get disheartened.”
Evans, an inexplicable miss from close-range either side of his 24th and 25th goals of the season a apart, produced another swashbuckling display to help United claim only their second win since last month’s Steel City derby.
Aided and abetted by fellow centre-forward Chris Porter, one of five changes Wilson made to his starting 11 in response to Tuesday’s defeat by Walsall, the Wales international harried and harassed Brentford’s defence into a series of costly mistakes while Michael Doyle thwarted several counter-attacks.
Alongside him, Lee Williamson reminded that Kevin McDonald, once again absent with a hamstring complaint, is not the only member of Wilson’s squad capable of providing a creative foil to the United captain’s abrasive talents.
“I should have had a hat-trick,” Evans admitted. “The chance I didn’t put away was probably the easiest one I had all afternoon but I didn’t let it bother me and just tried to forget about it.
“I can do that now because I’m enjoying my football so much. That’s the difference. I wasn’t going to let that miss get me down.”
Wilson had remained phlegmatic after defeats by Oldham and Walsall saw United fail to pull clear of the chasing pack. But his excitable description of their achievements in the capital betrayed the weight of pressure on United’s shoulders during this match at Griffin Park.
They responded with a performance which could, indeed should, have produced a greater margin of victory.
But Brentford, suffering their sixth home defeat this term, enjoyed enough possession to have at least denied United a clean sheet.
Shorn of leading scorer Gary Alexander, who completed a controversial transfer to Crawley Town earlier in the week, Uwe Rosler’s side saw enough of the ball to suggest they might trouble the top six.
But Clayton Donaldson and the lively Saido Berahino lacked the composure to prevent some fine work by Jonathan Douglas and Jake Bidwell from going to waste.
Despite engineering several promising positions, a combination of poor technique and United’s defensive discipline kept Brentford, an incident in each half apart, at arm’s length.
“Ched will get the headlines and quite rightly so but I thought Ports (Porter) was great out there too,” said Wilson. “He took the blows for his fellow forwards and was really unselfish.
“That was a really professional display. Solid and professional.”
Porter’s touch and Brentford’s indecision enabled Evans to snatch an early opener and while United goalkeeper Steve Simonsen, who later plucked a curling shot from Berahino acrobatically out of the air, smothered bravely at Donaldson’s feet soon after, Wilson’s men responded by doubling their lead.
Evans, who had earlier hooked wide with the net at his mercy, seized upon a dreadful error by Simon Moore to put United out of reach.
Having made a wonderful block to deny Porter moments before the interval, Moore redeemed himself by foiling Stephen Quinn before frustrating Evans as added time beckoned.
“We want to build on this and try and get another good run going,” Evans said.