Praise heaped on Sheffield United unsung hero v Blackburn as Blades book Man City date
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United and Blackburn Rovers were locked at 1-1 in the second half of their FA Cup quarter-final when Harry Pickering worked a yard of space on his right foot and shot through a crowd of bodies. United goalkeeper Wes Foderingham did well to get down and push the ball away, before getting up quickly and getting across to push away the follow up from Ben Brereton-Diaz with the Chile man – and 6,000 away fans behind that goal – preparing to celebrate.
Although Rovers did find another way past Foderingham, with Sammie Szmodics racing through to put Rovers 2-1 ahead, the key double save proved crucial when Oli McBurnie, and then Doyle, pounced inside the last 10 minutes to send United through to the semi-final with a stunning 3-2 victory.
The former Rangers goalkeeper was typically modest when asked about the moment afterwards, insisting: “That’s my job”. But Heckingbottom spoke in more effusive terms after his side set up a last-four clash with Manchester City.
"Big saves,” he said. “It was the double-save in the second half that really impressed me. I had to ask him after the game whether he had he saved that or if it was blocked or hit the post. It was a fantastic save and another big moment from him.
"With how we set the team up and wanted to play, we knew we were putting a bit more added pressure on the boys at the back. But that's how we want to play, with bravery.
"Against a counter-attacking team, that's where they're most dangerous and so you need those players and your goalkeeper to play their part when they're called upon. Otherwise, it might not be your day.”
Foderingham has been a revelation in the United goal since seizing his chance to claim the No.1 shirts following the departures of Aaron Ramsdale, Robin Olsen and Michael Verrips during his time at Bramall Lane.
"Sometimes I’m called into action to make big saves, and that’s my job,” he said. “Thankfully I could do that today. The first was one of those you’re thinking you should catch but I could see two Blackburn players in front of me and anyone can take a touch, so it’s difficult in those moments.
"But I think that gave me a little bit more adrenaline to get up and make the second save. Football’s about big moments and sometimes you need your big players to step up when it’s needed.”
Meanwhile, United’s FA Cup semi-final clash could be played on Saturday April 22. With fellow semi-finalists Manchester United playing away in Seville on the Thursday evening, the Red Devils could be granted an extra day to recover before facing Brighton and Hove Albion at Wembley. The dates or kick-off times have not yet been officially confirmed by the Football Association.