Blades have to be prepared for tough night

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SHEFFIELD United are in for a rough ride in their play-off semi-final first leg, according to Stevenage manager Gary Smith.

The Blades travel to Broadhall Way after a late slump in form allowed Steel City rivals Sheffield Wednesday to win the race for automatic promotion.

It meant a hugely disappointing end to the regular season, though manager Danny Wilson insists his side will be ready for the challenge of taking on sixth-placed Stevenage.

The Hertfordshire side will be buoyed by having taken four points off United during the regular season from a 2-1 win at home and last month’s 2-2 draw at Bramall Lane.

Stevenage manager Smith said: “Friday’s game will be quick, it will be energetic, it will be physical.

“It will be up and at ‘em and I will have the guys on raw meat and razor blades all week.

“They will be ready. These moments don’t come around all the time; you can’t look into a crystal ball and see this occurring every year so while we are here we want to make and take full advantage of it.

“If we come close to playing the way we know we can, we have got a chance. There is no doubt about that. We have got no fear at all.

“We will give Sheffield all the respect they deserve, but they will know having been here before that this is a tough place to come and the evening games here offer something very special in terms of the atmosphere.”

Wilson, meanwhile, insists United will be upbeat going into the first leg.

The Blades chief, who is today expected to appeal against James Beattie’s red card at Exeter City, said: “We know what we are up against because they are fresh in our memories (from the 2-2 draw at Bramall Lane on April 28) and it will be a tough tie.”

“But we will be ready to push on.”

United seem certain to be cheered on by bumper crowds at both legs of the semi-final with the club’s allocation of 1,390 tickets for Friday’s away leg being distributed on a loyalty basis.

Managing director Dave McCarthy said: “As a thank you to the supporters, the away coaches to Stevenage will be subsidised and the prices for the home leg set at Category C.

“Tickets went on sale on Sunday and the ticket office has been inundated with fans wanting to buy tickets.”