Mark Duffy says back-to-back games at Bramall Lane is the perfect tonic for Sheffield United after their winning run was smashed at Walsall on Saturday.
United, who travelled to the Banks’s Stadium on the back of six wins on the bounce, came back down to earth with a bump as goals from Amadou Bakayoko, Jason McCarthy, Joe Edwards and an Erhun Oztumer penalty saw Walsall prevail 4-1 - and, remarkably, secure their third win of the season against table-topping United.
Scunthorpe’s victory at Northampton means that United’s lead at the summit of League One is back to a single point, but they now face successive home games against Gillingham and Fleetwood and Duffy said: “It’s even more important that we pick up points in those now.
“It’s a tough one to take, but we’ve got to dust ourselves down now and work hard. It’s important to get back on track after losing a game.
“We’ve been really strong all year at home - a 20,000-plus crowd pushes you on, and the nice surface suits us.
“But we’ve got to work hard in closing people down faster, and picking up second balls; the stuff we’ve done well all season.
“When we do that, teams can’t really live with us.”
United, who saw Jack O’Connell cancel out Bakayoko’s early opener, arguably shaded the first half before falling apart in the second, with Simon Moore culpable for at least two of the host’s goals.
The Blades goalkeeper appeared to allow McCarthy’s tame effort to squirm under him, before he brought down George Dobson for the penalty which made it four.
But the former Brentford and Cardiff goalkeeper did make one superb stop to keep out Bakayoko’s equally-impressive overhead kick, and has been faultless for much of his United career since arriving in August.
“Simon will be disappointed, because he’s been outstanding since coming here,” boss Chris Wilder said.
“But this is professional sport, and sometimes individuals have off days and sometimes, collectively, the team has off days too.
“And we’ve had an off 45 minutes at Walsall, and been punished. They’re a bit of a bogey side, so we’re glad to see the back of them.
“We have to give them a bit of a credit, but the damage has been largely self-inflicted.”