Harry Maguire has warned his Sheffield United teammates that any repeat of last season’s abject performance at Stevenage could have disastrous consequences at the Lamex Stadium this afternoon, writes James Shield.
United return to Hertfordshire for the first time since being beaten 4-0 by their League One rivals nine months ago and the England under-21 international urged the surviving members of Nigel Clough’s squad to use the scenes which followed the final whistle as a motivational tool.
“They celebrated like they’d won the World Cup,” Maguire said. “So we’ve got to be aware of that.
“It’s a tough place to go and if we are not on our game then they will turn us over.
“We are still seen as a scalp in this division. If Wolves were in our position then it would be exactly the same.
“Opponents put in that extra five or ten per cent against you. We have to match that.”
While Kenny Jackett’s side are seemingly destined for promotion, a disastrous start to the campaign means United still find themselves at the wrong end of the table despite losing just twice since Clough’s appointment in October.
Today’s meeting, which brings together the division’s 19th and 21st placed clubs, also pits Stevenage defender Sam Wedgbury against his former employers.
“I was in the youth team here when Sam was around,” Maguire said. “He struggled to get first team football here but he’s done very well at Macclesfield and so (Stevenage manager) Graham Westley has taken him there.
“Sam is a very aggressive player, very strong and a good person to have around the dressing room.”
United, who are two points above their latest opponents, conceded 17 goals in 11 outings at the beginning of the season but Clough’s arrival has seen their rearguard breached just twice since Gillingham’s triumphed at Bramall Lane five weeks ago.
Maguire, United’s leading scorer with five, admitted: “That’s something which is lasting too long for my liking but I’m sure someone is going to overtake me soon.
“The manager has focused on the back four a lot, getting us to work as a unit but express ourselves when we’re on the ball.
“Really, though, it’s just hard work on the training ground and going back to basics. Results mean everything in football.”
Stevenage are without Roarie Deacon and Michael Doughty due to suspension but captain John Ashton could return despite being injured during last weekend’s draw with Port Vale.
“We’ve got to store what happened last time we were there, those celebrations, in our memory banks and be ready for a physical test,” Maguire said. “Stand up to that and then play our football as we can.”