MANAGER Chris Wilder has challenged his Sheffield United players to reach the 50-point mark by winning their final game of 2016.
The Blades made it 47 from 23 games – better than the accepted promotion form of two points per game – with Monday’s 2-0 win over Oldham Athletic.
Two goals from Billy Sharp, taking his tally to 16 for the season, means United are just one point back of leaders Scunthorpe with one game remaining this year.
That comes at Bramall Lane on Saturday when the Blades entertain manager Wilder’s former side Northampton Town.
Victory could see United enter 2017 as league leaders, but Wilder simply wants to reach a half-century of points.
“I’m not a massive one for setting the players targets, but we said beforehand, ‘let’s try and get to 50 points by the turn of the year’,” said Wilder. “We’re on 47 now and at the halfway stage, which is good. But we need to want more and we do want more.”
The physical power of Leon Clarke from the bench helped swing the Oldham game in the patient hosts’ favour, Sharp breaking the deadlock in the 72nd minute. It meant Caolan Lavery was an unused substitute, and Wilder had some sympathy for the former Sheffield Wednesday striker, who has struggled for game time.
“I feel a bit gutted for Caolan because he came on at Coventry and did ever so well,” said Wilder.
“It’s just that I thought we needed that little bit of strength to hold the ball up.
“Not that Caolan can’t do that, but it’s an obvious quality of Leon’s. We have to have a change of approach at times, we had to go to the front a bit quicker because we couldn’t play through midfield.”
United had their highest attendance of the season and Wilder believes the 25,821 helped the players clinch victory.