Nigel Clough refused to pull any punches despite watching his Sheffield United team complete a remarkable comeback at Colchester last night.
The visitors appeared destined for defeat when strikes from George Moncur and Freddie Sears fired Tony Humes’ side into a seemingly unassailable lead.
But three goals in the final seven minutes, including a Ben Davies brace, turned the match on its head and lifted United to sixth in the League One table ahead of this weekend’s meeting with Swindon Town.
Despite praising the players’ “determination and character,” Clough told The Star: “We got away with that one because, make no mistake, we didn’t play well. That’s why the dressing room isn’t too ebullient, if that’s the word, because we haven’t spared them from the facts. That it was a brilliant result but that the performance was bad.
“There’s no point in pretending otherwise. I doubt, apart from the final quarter-of-an-hour, if we’ll play as badly as that all season. I certainly hope not.”
Clough, who confirmed Jose Baxter (hamstring) and Jamal Campbell-Ryce (calf) were both absent after joining Jamie Murphy (dead leg) in the treatment room, cited Stefan Scougall’s entrance from the bench as the contest’s pivotal moment.
Admitting it had been “a risk” to introduce the Scot, whose compatriot Ryan Flynn joined Davies on the scoresheet, Clough said: “Stefan wasn’t even going to be on the bench, he wasn’t going to come down at all until Jamal had to pull-out. But we took the chance and he’ll still play for the under-21’s against Sheffield Wednesday (tonight).”