Mark Duffy vowed Sheffield United will fight until the very last game of the season in a bid to secure Premier League football next term, after moving back into the Championship play-off positions.
Chris Wilder’s side climbed to sixth, a point ahead of seventh placed Bristol City, following last night’s 3-1 victory over Reading at the Madejski Stadium.
Duffy, whose memorable finish on the stroke of half-time was book-ended by goals from Billy Sharp, described the result as “vital” following Wilder’s criticism of his team’s performance against Hull City four days earlier.
Admitting the manager’s decision to publicly question their promotion credentials had struck a chord, Duffy said: “There are 12 matches to go and we’ve shown we’re ready to fight right until the end to get to where we want to be. It was important we came up with a response and the gaffer was right to say what he did.
“It’s not nice when you’re on the receiving end but we’ve set the standards so high here, you know he’s not going to stand for it if you fail to meet them. We set them ourselves, we demand them of ourselves, and so it was vital that we went out there and showed what we are really all about.”
Despite controlling the fixture, United survived a scare when substitute Simon Moore saved Leandro Bacuna’s second-half penalty after Omar Richards had reduced the deficit.
Moore had earlier stepped-off the bench when Jamal Blackman was injured while Leon Clarke limped off with a hamstring complaint.
Alan Knill, the visitors’ asst manager, predicted both could recover in time for Saturday but admitted the back problem which ruled David Brooks out is proving difficult to heal.
“He’s still got that spasm,” Knill said. “But we don’t think Leon and Jamal are too serious. That’s the first indications we’re getting anyway.”