Match Report: Sheffield United 2 Swindon Town 0

Not this time for first goal scorer Chris Porter, who put this effort wide
Not this time for first goal scorer Chris Porter, who put this effort wide
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Footballers are obsessed with the future. Always stressing the need to look forward rather than wallow in the past.

Sometimes, though, it pays to break with convention as Sheffield United demonstrated when they ensured Chris Morgan’s reign enjoyed the perfect start.

Morgan, who accepted the task of trying to deliver promotion following Danny Wilson’s dismissal earlier in the week, showed his players a film of their finest moments before sending them into battle against fellow promotion contenders Swindon Town.

It provoked the desired response with Chris Porter, who scored his second goal since returning from a loan spell with Shrewsbury Town, revealing the former centre-half’s presence had helped to “freshen things up”.

“The video was a nice idea,” Porter said. “It was just little clips of us all doing good stuff set to music. A motivational type of thing and we enjoyed it.

“We’ve been solid all season at the back. Creating and scoring has been the problem.

“Morgs just told us to go out there, take the shackles off and try to show what we can do. It certainly worked because I think we could have won by a little bit more.

“I thought I could have got a few more myself and really killed them off.”

United’s miserable home record, they entered this contest searching for a first win at Bramall Lane since February and having gone nearly seven hours without treating their supporters to a goal, had been the catalyst for Wilson’s departure on Wednesday.

Anxious, nervous and seemingly bereft of self-belief against Crawley only four days earlier, they were an entirely different proposition here.

Porter in particular was unrecognisable to the striker who, despite the physical and technical tools at his disposal, has often failed to impress.

Together with fellow goal-scorer Dave Kitson, Porter’s ability to bully Swindon’s back four allowed United to employ the high-tempo, heart-on-your-sleeve approach which looks set to become the hallmark of Morgan’s regime.

Swindon, with Kevin McDonald, Jamie Murphy and Kitson all going close before Porter converted a free-kick from the excellent Tony McMahon, were completely overwhelmed before rediscovering some of their composure after the interval.

The introduction of youngsters Callum McFadzean, Joe Ironside and Elliott Whitehouse - “Three really energetic lads but with old heads,” said Morgan - helped United see the job through.

“We were ratting around all over the place out there,” Porter continued. “Scurrying around, closing everything down and then going about our work with the same pace and enthusiasm.

“That’s exactly how it’s been in training for the past few days so it was good to see it come to fruition out there.

“We tired a little bit second-half and that was probably inevitable because of how much we’d put into the first. But I don’t think even Swindon could deny we should have had it wrapped up by then anyway.

“Don’t get me wrong, Danny and (assistant) Frank (Barlow) did really well while they were here. Some absolutely great work.

“But Morgs coming in has freshened things-up and that’s probably exactly what we needed. I’m pleased he put me on from the start and I’ll give it my all.”

United, fifth in the League One table ahead of tomorrow’s visit by third placed Brentford, have dominated the division’s news agenda of late.

Amid the noise surrounding Wilson’s departure, Swindon’s dwindling powers have largely gone unnoticed with this their fifth defeat since Paolo Di Canio’s resignation 12 matches ago.

United exploited their fragile confidence when Porter, having earlier seen an attempt hooked off the line, broke the deadlock before Kitson also profited from another fine McMahon centre.

Swindon, now only a point in front of Walsall, are facing a battle to retain the final play-off berth.

“There were a few choice words,” Kevin MacDonald, their manager, said. “We were embarrassing in the first half and I need to apologise to the supporters for that because we didn’t match Sheffield United’s intensity.

“We didn’t match them anywhere on the pitch and we could quite easily have been five or six down.”

Despite previous concerns about their attacking prowess, one thing Morgan has inherited from Wilson is a well-drilled defence.

Swindon emerged a much more formidable proposition after the interval but United goalkeeper George Long, who has now conceded only seven times in 12 outings, was a largely peripheral figure although he did well to deny James Collins and substitute Mark Francis.

United, who had already seen Harry Maguire touch McMahon’s cross onto a post before the full-back also struck the woodwork following Porter’s intervention, went close through Murphy and Ryan Flynn before Kitson doubled their advantage with another header.

Porter said: “ It was a much needed win.

“Everyone respects Chris Morgan because of what he’s done in his career and he’s a great bloke too. We all want to do well for him. He’s tried to give us confidence, encouraged us to express ourselves and take things from there.

“Hopefully, if we can keep on moving forward, that will turn out to be a really big win.”