Holt wants play-off joy to atone for missing Hearts title

Jason Holt has hit a rich vein of scoring form since joining Sheffield United.
Jason Holt has hit a rich vein of scoring form since joining Sheffield United.
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HAD Jason Holt not moved south in January, he would currently be basking in the glow of a record-breaking season for Heart of Midlothian.

Not only was the Championship title in Scotland secured as early as mid-March, with no less than seven games still to play.

But Hearts went up with a record points tally of 91, beating the previous best in the second tier that had been set by bitter rivals Hibernian 16 years earlier.

Quite an achievement but one Holt missed out on after being lured to Bramall Lane by Nigel Clough in late January, just a few days after making his 15th and final league appearance of the season for Hearts. Not that he is unduly bothered.

“It was an easy decision to come here,” insists the 22-year-old when speaking to The Yorkshire Post ahead of tonight’s play-off semi-final first leg. “Definitely.

“This is a massive club and the fans are great. That means it was easy one for me to make.

“Hearts have had a great season but, as a player, you sometimes need a new challenge and I think that was the case with me.”

Holt’s tally of league appearances for Hearts this term means he is entitled to a title winners’ medal. What he really wants, however, is promotion to the Championship as United prepare for what manager Clough admits is a “mini-season of Cup football”.

The midfielder sat out the final-day draw at home to Chesterfield but his five goals in 11 starts since moving to Yorkshire played a part in United claiming a top-six berth.

Holt puts his unexpected scoring prowess – he only netted seven league goals in two years at Tynecastle – down to how quickly he settled at the Lane.

“The Scottish lads have helped me settle,” said the Edinburgh-born midfielder. “If you go to a new club knowing a few lads, it always helps.

“But not long after I had got here, I had got to know the other lads well and it is a great club.”

Another of the Scots hoping to help United into the Championship come May 24 is Jamie Murphy, who netted both goals in the home win over Swindon on January 31.

“Sometimes you get teams that you do well against,” said the wideman. “I got a couple in the home game (against Swindon) earlier this year.

“But, to be honest, we will take anyone scoring the goals at the moment to get us through. We know this is going to be a tough game but we all want to get back to Wembley.”