Sheffield United: Clough defends his players

Nigel Clough wants cup progress � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Nigel Clough wants cup progress � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
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Nigel Clough has leapt to the defence of his players following their defeat by Shrewsbury Town, writes James Shield.

The Sheffield United manager acknowledged last weekend’s result at Greenhous Meadow, which left the visitors 22nd in the League One table, was “bitterly disappointing.”

But Clough insisted that, despite the 2-0 scoreline, he had been encouraged by aspects of their performance.

“It feels strange saying that you can take positives after losing a game,” Clough told The Star. “But that’s definitely the case in this instance.

“I thought the application and character of the players was excellent. Particularly after going down to 10 men because, even then, they kept plugging away and creating good opportunities.”

Clough, whose team return to action on Saturday when they face Colchester in the first round of the FA Cup, was referring to the red card Febian Brandy received following a confrontation with Town defender Connor Goldson.

Brandy, who had been introduced as substitute only 12 minutes earlier, is expected to be heavily fined after being dismissed for the second time this term.

United, already trailing to Joe Jacobson’s superb long-range effort, conceded again when Liam McAlinden applied the finishing touches to a late counter-attacking move.

“The conditions weren’t good,” Clough continued. “The wind made it very difficult for both teams but I still thought we controlled large parts of the match even when we were at a numerical disadvantage.

“However, there are always areas where you can improve. One of those, against Shrewsbury at least, was not making their goalkeeper work hard enough.

“There was one moment in particular where that was highlighted. Aidy White supplied a terrific cross and usually, one of our centre-forwards would have put that away.

“Unfortunately, that didn’t happen so perhaps we could all have been on our toes a little bit more in and around the penalty area. Been a little bit brighter and on the front foot.

“We got caught out committing lots of men forward for the second. Perhaps we were doing that, really chasing it, a little bit too soon given the situation.”

Meanwhile, Chris Porter has returned to Bramall Lane following his loan spell with Chesterfield.

Clough, who yesterday confirmed Cardiff City have agreed to extend Simon Lappin’s stay with United until January, watched the centre-forward in action during the 3-1 Professional Development League victory over Barnsley. United’s under-18’s also beat Barnsley last weekend with Jake Wright and Kyle Scarsbrick scoring the goals.

*Twitter: @JamesShield1