Basham's Arriving... Remembering Chris Basham's iconic goal at Leeds United that set Sheffield United on the road to promotion, one year ago today
Elland Road, March 2019. In the pouring West Yorkshire rain, as promotion rivals Sheffield United and Leeds United faced off, Chris Basham was struggling.
Pushed into midfield by manager Chris Wilder, Basham could not get to grips with the game or the conditions and his first 45 minutes was rather summed up by a chance late in the first half. He rounded Leeds 'keeper Kiko Casilla but elected to pass to Billy Sharp rather than go alone. United's chance was gone - Basham maybe feared his was, too. Many wondered if he'd be dragged off at half-time. Wilder later revealed he'd started considering it after about 20 minutes.
Basham, often his own harshest critic, gave himself a 3/10 for his first-half display but United were still in the game; a fact skipper Sharp hammered home at half-time. "This is a classic away-team performance," he told his teammates. "We've stayed in the game."
Wilder took over, reminding his players that their chance would come. And it did.
Sharp bullied his old pal Liam Cooper but, after winning the ball, found himself short of options. Then he spotted a typical lung-busting run of Basham. So many players may have 'hidden' after the first half he had endured. Not this time. Sharp fed the Geordie and Elland Road held its breath. Ollie Norwood later jokingly admitted he had his doubts. But with a beautiful first-time finish, Basham steered the ball past Casilla, sliding with the ball to take it away from his reach.
That's his version, anyway. So many of his teammates contend to this day he slipped. But it did not matter a jot.
How fitting, too, that it should be Basham to score; a veteran of the League One nightmare and arguably my favourite player to watch now, amongst the galacticos of the top flight.
It was probably the defining image of the season; Basham sliding in front of United's jubilant fans as Daniel Mann's iconic commentary on Sky played out. Basham arrived, all right. Arguably that day, in a long and topsy-turvy battle for Premier League football, so did United.