Sheffield United manager Nigel Adkins described his team’s victory over Coventry City as a fitting end to a “poignant” week at Bramall Lane.
Tributes were paid to former goalkeeper Alan Hodgkinson and club photographer Martyn Harrison before kick-off yesterday after both passed away during United’s preparations for the game.
Adkins, who saw Billy Sharp’s second-half effort secure his team’s first League One win since October 20, told The Star: “We’ve paid our respects to two legends and those respects were so well observed.
“Everybody, quite rightly, remembered them both. You’ve seen the lads have had a right ‘go’ out there and have been so, so committed.
“That’s the very least we expected from them.”
Hodgkinson, capped five times by England, made 674 competitive appearances for United after leaving Worksop Town in 1953. Harrison, a lifelong supporter, began his professional association with United in the mid-80s.
“It’s been a poignant time,” Adkins, who revealed the partners of Sharp and fellow substitute Ryan Flynn had also given birth during the build-up to City’s visit, said. “I went to the Senior Blades dinner on Wednesday and Hodgy and Baldy (Harrison) were well-remembered by so many people there. There were folk who knew them both for many years and so, yes, it was emotional.”
“It’s been positive in respect of Flynny and Sharpy,” Adkins added. “We’ve had an (FA) cup draw against Manchester United which is, of course, down to good fortune so, perhaps, there have been a few people up there looking down on us.”
United climbed to 11th in the table - nine points behind second-placed City and four off the play-offs - when Sharp scored his eighth goal of the season near the end of a hard-fought game.
“I know Billy didn’t start but he’s shown why I have such belief in him,” Adkins said. “Why I always have had and always will do going forward. He’s worked hard all week and done everything right in training but sometimes you just feel as if you need to change things. And, in any case, as I always maintain, it’s not about the 11 players who start, it’s about the whole group.”