SHEFFIELD United will bounce back ‘better’ and ‘stronger’ following their League One play-off final defeat at Wembley, striker Richard Cresswell has vowed.
Danny Wilson’s side were denied an immediate return to the Championship after being beaten 8-7 on penalties by Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield Town.
But despite admitting United were “devastated” and “gutted” by Saturday’s result, Cresswell said: “We’ll gather ourselves together and come back from this.
“Whatever anyone might think at the moment, we’ve had a season that will stand us in good stead.
“It’s been a long hard season and it’s especially difficult for it to end on that note.
“But we’ll dust ourselves down, pick ourselves up and come back again.
“We’ll go away and have a holiday but, as far as I’m concerned, the preparations for next season start straight away.”
With the score locked at 0-0 after 120 minutes of nerve-wracking action, Cresswell admitted he suspected it “was going to be our day” when Town failed to convert any of their first three spot-kicks.
However, with Lee Williamson, Matthew Lowton and Andy Taylor also failing to find the back of the net, the drama continued until only the goalkeepers remained.
Town’s Alex Smithies, deputising for the injured Ian Bennett, dispatched his effort before United counterpart Steve Simonsen fired over the crossbar.
It marked a cruel end to a campaign which at one stage seemed destined to deliver automatic promotion before circumstances both on and off the pitch conspired to edge United into third; one place and nine points above Simon Grayson’s men but behind Charlton Athletic and Sheffield Wednesday.
Cresswell said: “I’m devastated and gutted for everyone. Simmo didn’t deserve that because he was great all day.
“We’ve had a lot thrown at us these past few months but we dealt with it well. The gaffer has been absolutely superb I’ve got to say. Brilliant.
“Unfortunately, penalties can go either way and on this occasion it wasn’t ours. The fans have been brilliant with us too. They’ve stuck by us and I’m sure they’ll be with us again next year.”
Wilson, who took charge at Bramall Lane when United were relegated from the Championship last term, praised his charges’ “class” after they applauded Town’s following after Simonsen’s miss: “It was a spontaneous gesture from the lads and the staff and that shows what type of people they are,” said Wilson.
“Simmo had a great game. He was even saving their penalties so no one is blaming him.
Chairman Kevin McCabe has admitted “there will be quite a few changes to the squad” over the summer but stressed: “There is no for sale sign on the heads of the likes of Matthew Lowton and Harry Maguire.”
McCabe has heaped praise on the “super job” Wilson has done this season and said he has been a“breath of fresh air”.