In the latest of his regular blog's, Hillary Street-Ender takes a look at last night's Johnstone's Paint Trophy victory over Sheffield United.
In the latest of his regular blog's, Hillary Street-Ender takes a look at last night's Johnstone's Paint Trophy victory over Sheffield United.

After taking half a step toward Wembley against Shrewsbury four days ago tonight we attempt to take a second step toward the same destination as we welcome Sheffield United in the northern quarter-final of the Paint Pot. A victory would put us through to the area semi-final, leaving us three games from the world’s most famous venue with tonight’s opponent offering what looks to be the stiffest challenge left in our section. The Blades have former Saddlers Brandy and Butler out on loan at the moment so neither will be facing us as we look to put on a decent performance in front of the T.V. cameras. A repeat of our last televised performance would be nice as that night saw us play Peterborough off the pitch in securing a two-nil win. O’Donnell has attracted a fair bit of attention over the last few days as his wonder save against the Shrews has gone viral on the internet and I wonder if that might bring about some unwanted attention from other clubs come the opening of the transfer window. Bradshaw is in a very good vein of form at the moment so let’s hope he can maintain his scoring streak at least one game further. The Bescot atmosphere is more than a little flat as we get underway in front of the expected low attendance, one that’s nudged over the two thousand mark by the presence of a couple of hundred Blades supporters who, perhaps, wish they hadn’t bothered as we witness a first half that’s long on tedium and short on notable incident. Bradshaw is tightly marshalled by the United defence and struggles to make any impact during a first half that seems to go on for ever. We do a fair amount of pressing but to very little avail with our best chance falling to Bradders, who hits a difficult chance across the keeper and wide of the far post, just prior to half-time, when there seemed little chance of scoring and it may have been over-stretching for the ball at that moment that caused him to be withdrawn from the action during the break to be replaced by Manset. Jimmy Bax has been left out of the starting line-up after a below-par performance or two and is replaced by Cook who goes on contribute not all that much. The Blades are offering very little and it has to be said that on tonight’s evidence they don’t look a good side. The first half fare offers little in the way of entertainment and could be described as absorbing, at best, and the fact that it ends goal-less is entirely fitting.

The players re-appear for the second period and we’re worried by Bradders’ absence, with the loss of his speed off the mark seeming likely to hinder us as we strive to take the lead. Manset will now be up front on his own and that does at least mean we’ll now be offering more of a threat in the air. The half doesn’t pan out that way and Manset gives an impressive performance full of running at the back four and generally making his huge presence very much felt. A goal or two might have come his way, particularly when a ball through the square Blades back four sends him running clear only for his lob to clear goalkeeper and crossbar, and near the end when he latches onto the ball in the area from where he goes past a succession of defenders without getting away a shot when it seemed that he must score. The game’s only goal had arrived well before that when Sawyers met a corner with a twisting header across the keeper, the ball bound for the net with the lunging defender only helping it on its’ way. Manset’s two chances come as the Blades push forward in search of an equaliser, one that might have arrived had O’Donnell not gone full-length to tip away a rasping long-ranger. No further goals come along and we have a deserved win to take into Saturday’s visit of the Posh. Confidence among the players must be steadily rising and there seems good reason for us fans to be cautiously optimistic. United haven’t looked a top six side this evening and I feel there’ll be little to be afraid of when we visit Bramall Lane for a league game just before Christmas.

Perhaps the most memorable incident of the evening came shortly before the final whistle when a seemingly-inebriated individual entered the field of play from the Lower Gilbert and made his way to the centre circle before striking his best ‘come and get me, ladies’ pose, having first removed his shirt to show who had, indeed, eaten all the pies. On getting back to his feet he trotted slowly toward the away end where the stewards finally caught up with him. Said stewards seemed slow off the mark but I’m reliably informed that they’re not allowed to run in this sort of situation – although I’m hoping they’re allowed to administer a slap - and I’m informed also that this idiot will probably receive a twelve-month ban. He’s probably landed the club in hot water with this brainless act all, no doubt, in a failed attempt to get himself on telly so it’s to be hoped that the club will take a suitably dim view and hit him with an extended ban. 

By: Hillary Street-Ender.
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