THIRTY four matches down. Twelve to go.
Sheffield United might have been knocked off top spot in League One following their goalless draw with Leyton Orient on Tuesday night but I expect a strong finish from Danny Wilson’s charges.
Just four points separate the top seven teams. Who will buckle first under the pressure? Which club will string together a consistent run of positive results to seize the initiative? We will soon have our answers.
My money is on United to come first or second. They have been there before and got the T-Shirt. Last year’s Play-Off final disappointment has spurred them on. There is a determination within the squad to make sure history does not repeat itself.
Some fans questioned Wilson’s transfer recruitment in January. But all five have contributed and made United stronger.
In Neill Collins, Michael Doyle, Barry Robson and Dave Kitson, United boast a wealth of experience down the spine of their side. It cannot be underestimated how invaluable that will be in the run in.
Full-back Tony McMahon reckons eight more wins will guarantee United go up. The South Yorkshire outfit are one of the form sides in the division, having recorded four victories from their last five outings, and will believe that target is attainable. If they achieved that objective, it would put United on 85 points. I doubt, though, they will need as many as that.
Three of United’s next four fixtures are away from Bramall Lane. Their form on the road has been impressive. Only Doncaster Rovers (11) and Coventry City (10) have won more on their travels.
Trips to fellow promotion contenders Tranmere Rovers and Walsall over the Easter period will be tough test but United are more than capable of wining four out of their remaining six away matches.
Since Boxing Day, United have struggled on their own turf. One victory in five matches is distinctly average and Wilson will be acutely aware they need to quickly improve that statistic to make their top two dream a reality.
Nonetheless, I think United will turn their home woes around and, in my humble opinion, will seal their return to the Championship in the penultimate game of the season at Portsmouth.