MANAGER Nigel Adkins has hailed the never-say-die qualities of his Sheffield United side, who kept their competitive season alive with a late 3-2 victory in a must-win game against relegation-threatened Crewe Alexandra at Bramall Lane.
Boasting a 2-0 lead just after the hour mark, courtesy of strikes from Che Adams and Ryan Flynn, the Blades were pegged back by goals from David Fox and Harry Davis, only for top-scorer Billy Sharp to net a priceless winner in the 87th minute. The victory kept United’s outside hopes of reaching the top six intact, much to the delight of manager Adkins, who admitted before the game that victory was non-negotiable if they were to keep their play-off hopes alive after an inconsistent campaign.
United’s mood was further improved by news of sixth-placed Barnsley’s goalless draw with Scunthorpe, with Adkins’ side, up to 11th place in League One, having cut the gap to their near-neighbours – who they host on April 23 – to four points.
Adkins said: “Regardless of what everybody else had done, we needed to win the game and get ourselves ready for the next one.
“Everyone will look at a negative more than a positive. Yes we got pegged back, but we kept going and that is what we need to keep doing between now and the end of the season.
“The grit and resilience of the team was shown and it was a fantastic cross by Louis (Reed) for the winner and then there was Billy with a fantastic header.
“We win 3-2 and everyone’s excited and everyone should be happy. It was a cracking day’s entertainment.
“It’s about results from hereon in and we got the result. The first-half performance gives me a lot of belief going forward as I thought we were exhilarating.
“That is the way we want to be and need to maintain that all the way through. But to then be pegged back, with some young players on the pitch, we then won it with a fantastic goal.”
Manager Jackie McNamara insists York City can still beat the drop from the Football League despite another setback as the club’s winless run was extended to eight games.
Two calamitous blunders by the Minstermen allowed Crawley to return south with a point from a contest that the Yorkshire side simply had to win. Stevenage claiming an unexpected draw at Oxford United and Hartlepool United’s win at home to AFC Wimbledon means York are seven points adrift of safety – or eight, when their wretched goal difference is factored in – with just eight games to play.
Despite that, McNamara remains defiant that all is not yet lost for York in the quest for survival.
“It is still possible,” said the Scot in the wake of yesterday’s 2-2 draw at Bootham Crescent.
“We have to go to Plymouth on Monday and give it our best shot. It can happen.”
Crawley’s goals came in the early minutes of each half and owed everything to mistakes by the hosts, much to their manager’s frustration.
“It is two points dropped,” said the York chief.
“We should have won that game. We have only got ourselves to blame. Same as last week at Wimbledon.
“We have lost two very poor goals, one from a free-kick and a bit of indecision and the other should just not have happened.
“We put so much hard work into it.
“I don’t think Scott had a save to make in the entire match from open play. They didn’t cause us one problem.
“That is the frustrating thing.
“A lack of concentration cost us. If they are concentrating, it doesn’t bounce. We gave ourselves an uphill task with both goals.
“It has been costly but that is why we are where we are.”
Doncaster Rovers manager Darren Ferguson, meanwhile, turned on his players after they suffered a second-half collapse in losing 4-1 at League One relegation rivals Colchester United.
“I know I’ll be hurting until we play again but will they be? I don’t know,” blasted Ferguson, whose side have not won for 13 games.
“Quite honestly I could play the youth team on Monday and I’d get more out of them than that. The fans would probably appreciate it.”
Additional reporting Richard Sutcliffe:
Match reports: Pages 2 & 3