Sheffield United: Come in No.9... your time is now!

Jamie Murphy scores United's winner against Gillingham
Jamie Murphy scores United's winner against Gillingham
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He doesn’t boast Keith Edwards’ goalscoring guile, offer the sheer strength of Mick Jones or enjoy Tony Agana’s remarkable reputation.

But, as Jamie Murphy showed on Saturday with a stunning solo strike against Gillingham, Sheffield United’s latest No. 9 does possess both the invention and the industry required to unlock League One defences forNigel Clough’s side this season.

The 25-year-old Scot sent the Bramall Lane crowd into raptures with his 96th-minute winner on Saturday, which completed yet another late turnaround after substitute Michael Higdon had cancelled out Luke Norris’ eye-catching volley just minutes earlier.

Murphy’s effort, coolly slotted through the legs of ex-Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Stephen Bywater after wriggling away from four defenders, was United’s 27th on goal in a dominant display against the plucky visitors.

The late, late victory made the celebrations even sweeter on Saturday evening, when United toasted their 125th anniversary with a glitzy bash at Ponds Forge.

And Murphy, speaking hours before he shared a room with strikers great and good from Bramall Lane history, admitted: “I’m not your typical ‘No.9’ striker, but there are different ways to affect a game, by scoring a goal or playing a decisive pass, and I like to contribute in any way I can.

“When they scored their goal, we couldn’t quite believe it and we didn’t think it was going to be our day. Fair play to their lad, it was a great strike but we were much the better team on the day and it was a great feeling to come back and get the two late goals.

“With five minutes to go, Andy Garner had a wee word with me and told me to run at their defence. It was a great moment for me when I managed to squeeze it through their keeper’s legs, and I’m sure the fans enjoyed it as well.”

United boss Clough, himself a No.9 of considerable pedigree during his playing days, admitted he would have been proud of the finish, before admitting: “I never ran that far, though!”

And Murphy, who is expected to keep his place for this weekend’s visit to Chesterfield, added: “The gaffer wears the No.9 on his training kit every day, so it’s hard to avoid him reminding us he was a top striker and there are some high standards!

“But it’s a number I’ve always worn throughout my career, and it’s an honour to wear it for such a big club.

“Now, I’ve got to try and kick on from here and improve my goalscoring tally, as well as creating them for others. I grew up playing up front and scoring goals was all part of my game, so I hope to do it more often - although hopefully they don’t all come in the last minute!

“It’ll be nice to get a comfortable lead early on in the next few games and close them out, but to keep coming from behind to win shows the spirit and character we have here. Even at Swindon, we got two from three down and although we went on to lose, that shows a lot about the group.

“We’re obviously good enough but we need to start better. If we get an early goal in games, it could easily end up three or four nil because we have that much quality in our ranks here.”