Scenes of joy as Sheffield United's U23s get hands on league trophy - but skipper says hard work isn't over yet ahead of play-off date with Ipswich
There were rare scenes of jubilation for players in a red and white shirt at Bramall Lane yesterday as Sheffield United’s title-winning U23 side finally got their hands on the professional development north trophy.
Typically, the young Blades rounded off their campaign in fine style with a 4-1 victory over Wigan Athletic, celebrating suitably as skipper Harrison Neal hoisted the shield into the Steel City air.
But thoughts will quickly turn to the upcoming play-offs, which will see United face Ipswich Town.
“We didn’t have the best of starts to the season,” admitted Neal, whose side didn’t win any of their first three games of the campaign.
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“But we’ve pushed on and got better and better. We’ve worked hard and if you do that, then you get your rewards.
“We’ve got the play-offs now and this is only the start of it. It’ll be a successful season if we win the play-offs. So that’s what we’re looking to do.”
Neal’s side lost 1-0 at home to Swansea City last week, only their fourth defeat of the season, but bounced back in style against Wigan.
Will Osula put the Blades ahead after eight minutes after capitalising on a defensive mix-up to finish, before hitting the outside of the post after latching on to Zak Brunt’s pass.
Andre Brooks stabbed wide after a good run from right-back Femi Seriki, but Wigan came back into the game and equalised when Adam Long poked in at the back post after a superb cross from skipper Scott Smith from the right.
United, though, retook the lead when Nickseon Gomis roamed forward from left-centre half and was in the perfect position to slot home from about 10 yards out after Seriki’s cut-back.
The impressive Seriki saw a goal of his own chalked off for offside, and a brilliant run from the right-back saw him run half the length of the pitch and beat two men before rolling the ball across goal for under-18s striker Osula to score his second and put the Blades 3-1 up.
It became four late on when Smith sliced Brunt’s corner past his own goalkeeper and into the far corner, before Neal lifted the trophy to jubilant scenes.