Sheffield United: Unsung hero's moment in the spotlight embodies the spirit that could see Blades promoted

On Friday, as Sheffield United prepared to board their train for the capital ahead of their crunch evening clash with Queens Park Rangers, defender Jack Robinson was targeted with some good-natured ribbing.

Monday, 2nd May 2022, 4:00 pm

“We were only speaking as we set off here about it,” boss Paul Heckingbottom. “Saying: ‘Any chance of a goal?’ So yeah, I’m delighted for him.”

Robinson heeded the pre-match call with a towering second-half header to put the Blades ahead at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, on their way to a potentially-crucial three points in their push for the play-offs.

Punished for their lack of cutting edge in the first half by Charlie Austin’s opener for the home side, the Blades were at their rampant best in the second as they swarmed all over QPR to post a remarkable 27 shots on goal and, more crucially, a 3-1 victory.

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With play-off rivals Middlesbrough and Millwall also winning at the weekend, three points were vital in keeping the Blades’ play-off fate in their own hands. Another victory against Fulham this weekend seals it; anything less opens the door for those in the chasing pack.

The pressure of which makes Friday’s turnaround all the more impressive. We have been told in recent weeks, by different members of Heckingbottom’s first-team squad, that there is no pressure on United and if there is, then it’s the kind of pressure that they relish. That may be the case, but it certainly looked to weigh heavily in the first half.

Iliman Ndiaye’s equaliser brought hope, and an explosion of limbs in the away end that ended up with one fan being wiped out by another landing on him as they vaulted the advertising hoardings.

Jack Robinson of Sheffield United celebrates scoring against his former club QPR: David Klein / Sportimage

Robinson’s second brought an outpouring of elation, not least from the scorer, and a third, in added time from the first touch of substitute Conor Hourihane, brought relief. The Blades’ play-off place was secure, for another week at least.

“When Bashy [Chris Basham] headed it back across, my eyes lit up,” said Robinson, a player whose spirit and character perhaps embodies this United side as well as any other.

“I knew I was going to win it. Seeing it nestle in the back of the net was an unbelievable feeling and it was great for the fans there, in front of them.

“We needed that boost. We were struggling to get that second and it came and it gave us a right lift towards the end of the game. Getting the third just settled us down and we comfortably got the three points.”

Frequently, and unfairly, castigated by a section of supporters for his performances since being signed, Robinson has been good value for the shirt since coming back into the side at the expense of Liverpool loanee Ben Davies and, with three goals, is enjoying the best-scoring season of his professional career.

At the other end, he has been defensively faultless and the way he dealt with Stefan Johansen, after a coming-together in the second half, showed he is certainly up for the fight. It may just be a spirit, if replicated across the entire group, that delivers United back to the Premier League.