Danny Hall's Sheffield United column: Billy shows the widsom of having Sharp strikers at Blades

Games against Swindon Town always evoke some particularly poor memories for Sheffield United in recent times, and not just about the ridiculous '˜Magic Roundabout' they have to negate on the way to The County Ground.

Friday, 9th December 2016, 9:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 12:37 pm
Billy Sharp has scored twice in his last two games for United against Swindon - including this penalty at Bramall Lane back in January

Last season’s 2-0 victory there saw United’s players unveil a memorable celebration, later revealed as a tribute to the motivational ‘Wisdom of Geese’ video then-boss Nigel Adkins had played for them pre-match.

The year before, United shipped five goals in both of their matches in Wiltshire, the second a remarkable 5-5 draw in the second leg of their play-off semi-final which saw them lose 7-6 on aggregate.

There is every chance that tomorrow’s League One clash between the two sides, this time at Bramall Lane, could be equally as eventful.

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United, after all, average a remarkable 24 shots at goal and 62 per cent of possession in their last three home games, against Shrewsbury, Bury and Walsall, and there is a common consensus that a team is due a spanking sooner rather than later.

United simply need to be more clinical in front of goal, although a healthier slice of luck would help too (they had two seemingly-legitimate goals disallowed against Walsall, missed a penalty and had at least two other good calls turned down).

Alan Knill, speaking after Sunday’s FA Cup defeat at Bolton, predicted that any other team in League One would take United’s four strikers but it doesn’t take any great football mind to see that three of those - Matt Done, Caolan Lavery and Leon Clarke - must improve their output, in terms of goals, to support main man Billy Sharp.

A crude maths exercise shows that Sharp’s 12 goals so far have either earned or saved United 13 points this term and without those, they’d be 16th in the table rather than third.

Football isn’t so black and white, of course, but the statistic is a little startling; as is a further examination of United’s scoring charts.

Stefan Scougall has five from seven starts, then it’s defender Ethan Ebanks-Landell with four.

There are extenuating circumstances in the cases of Clarke and Lavery, given their fitness problems recently, and Done does offer far more than just goals with his endless energy.

But their collective goals tally - three in the league - is an intriguing sub-plot to United’s success so far, albeit one that can only surely improve if Chris Wilder’s side continue to dominate games as they have of late.