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Sheffield United Match Analysis: How Chris Basham’s reaction to the 3-2 win over Preston North End revealed everything about this squad’s personality

Sheffield United's David McGoldrick
Sheffield United's David McGoldrick

It spoke volumes, not only about his own personality but also the squad’s as a whole, that after performing a starring role in Sheffield United's most dramatic victory of the season so far, Chris Basham talked about everyone but himself.

David McGoldrick inevitably got a mention. The defender’s son Luke, celebrating his fourth birthday, received the same treatment too.

But only after some gentle prompting was Basham, whose selfless commitment epitomises what Chris Wilder’s team is all about, eventually persuaded to discuss his own part in this deserved but ridiculously hard-fought success.

Ridiculous because, thanks to a combination of Preston North End’s character and their own carelessness, United had to win it twice.

Two goals to the good and in total control of the contest, Wilder’s players somehow found themselves relying on McGoldrick’s last-gasp effort to prevent the visitors claiming a point.

“With the lead we had, you feel comfortable in the game,” Basham said, after doubling United’s lead following Billy Sharp’s opener.

“But Preston are a Championship club. They were always going to create something. We conceded twice but showed great spirit to come through in the end. I’d rather have this, however it came about, than a draw or a defeat.”

A new script

Wilder was preparing to read his side the riot act when Daniel Johnson dragged Preston level after Callum Robinson’s strike. The equaliser was fortuitous, taking a deflection before it spiralled past Dean Henderson, but wholly preventable given United’s earlier dominance.

Alex Neil, Wilder’s opposite number, later admitted he sensed there would be one final twist. The Scot was right but not the one either he or his side, who are now propping up the rest of the table, would have liked.

With only minutes remaining, Enda Stevens and substitute Marvin Johnson combined to create the opening converted by McGoldrick to force his manager’s change of script.

“Preston are fighting for their lives,” Basham said. “I know we’re only eight games in, but they are doing what they can to get that result from somewhere.

“They could have got it in the end but we are buzzing, really buzzing, to have come through like we did.”

Despite echoing those sentiments, Wilder acknowledged he would still be “picking through the bones” of Saturday’s fixture later this week.

But any concerns will be eased by the knowledge that, in a strange sort of way, United should benefit from the experience.

Fourth in the table with 35 matches remaining, they received an important reminder about the importance of staying focused and, given the timing of McGoldrick’s finish, fighting until the end.

“We are still learning as we go along as a team,” Basham said. “The players and probably the staff as well are learning. We feel a bit deflated, but we have won the game.”

This could turn out to be McGoldrick’s eureka moment too.

The former Ipswich Town forward has produced a series of impressive displays since arriving in South Yorkshire but, after missing a series of excellent opportunities, folk had begun to suspect his shooting boots were still at Portman Road.

That pattern appeared set to continue when, after watching Basham turn home Oliver Norwood’s delicious set-piece, he failed to hit the target despite being unmarked in the box.

If the shot which saw off Preston signals the start of a run, United will have some player on their hands.

Basham said: “He had a chance to put us 3-0 up, but he snatched at it a little. But he has got that quality and the fans love what he brings to this club.

“He has been like a breath of fresh air.

“Hopefully, he can get on a roll now.

“He brings experience, he was linked with moves for £9m or £10m not so long ago, so you know he has that quality. He’s a great voice in the dressing room.”

A very dramatic end

With Preston intent on dragging United into the trenches, it was vital Wilder’s men scored first.

Sharp ensured they did when, for the fifth time this season, he found the back of the net.

Basham added a second, guiding a delightful header over Maxwell, before McGoldrick, whose low drive had earlier helped break the deadlock, dragged wide.

Robinson took advantage in clinical fashion before Johnson pounced.

But McGoldrick was in the right place at the right time to ensure an intricate interchange between Stevens and Johnson, together with United’s good work, did not go to waste.

“It was my little boy’s birthday so it was nice to get him a goal,” Basham said.

“I said ‘I will try and notch a goal for you, son’, so that was nice.

“I dedicate it to him.”