RYAN FLYNN, as one of Sheffield United’s longest-serving players, could be forgiven for being heartily sick of the play-offs.
The Scot has been at Bramall Lane throughout the club’s last three appearances in the end-of-season promotion deciders and yet only one of those six games has been won. Even then, that 1-0 first-leg win over Yeovil Town in 2013 was the only one of those half-dozen matches where Flynn did not get on the field.
Despite such an ignominious record, Flynn cannot wait for tonight’s clash at Swindon Town to come around as the Blades look to overhaul a 2-1 deficit at the County Ground.
“We would have liked to play Friday morning, if I am honest,” stressed the 26-year-old to The Yorkshire Post.
“After the first leg on Thursday, everyone was dejected.
“But, after 10 minutes of being down in the dressing room, we knew we were still in the tie and ready to have a real go at Swindon.
“In the first leg, apart from a spell just before and just after half-time, I felt we played well. We also didn’t get some decisions in our favour so there is a feeling of injustice.
“But I would rather feel that now with the second leg still to come than feel it afterwards.
“I am really looking forward to it and we all want to take our frustration out on Swindon.”
Flynn’s first season in South Yorkshire following his move from Falkirk ended with the almighty Steel City scrap for automatic promotion that was won on the final day by Wednesday.
That meant a first taste of the play-offs for Flynn, as he played in both semi-final legs against Stevenage and then the heart-breaking defeat to Huddersfield Town at Wembley on penalties.
A year later, the winger had to sit out the first-leg victory over Yeovil as the Blades again finished in the top six.
He came off the bench in the return at Huish Park, but the damage had already been done courtesy of a goal in each half for the Glovers that condemned United to a seventh straight failure in the play-offs.
Thursday’s home loss means Nigel Clough’s men have all on to keep any hopes of promotion alive beyond tonight, but Flynn believes his own experience points to Swindon being left in something of a quandary.
“I have been here before,” said the Scot, who along with Neill Collins and Michael Doyle of the current squad was involved in the 2012 and 2013 play-off failures. “We beat Yeovil at home in my second year when Callum McFadzean scored.
“It left us approaching the second leg thinking, ‘What do we do?’ I think that showed on the day. We tried to have the mindset of attacking, but we were ahead on aggregate and it can cause you to think twice.
“The first year we were involved was different. We played Stevenage (in the semi-finals).
“We went down there and did our job in a 0-0 draw. In the second leg, we were brilliant and kept going at them.
“It took us a while to get the goal, but that is something we need to remember at Swindon. It can be grind, grind and grind but all we need is one goal. And we have 90 minutes to get that goal. We have scored a lot of late goals this year and have ground teams down.
“Yeovil was the opposite in that we approached it thinking, ‘If we keep this tight for the first 20 minutes, we’ll be okay’. But the first Yeovil goal went in after five minutes and that was it.
“That afternoon shows what can happen, and there is enough experience in our dressing room to know what needs to be done this time against Swindon.
“It was disappointing to lose on Thursday, but there are two legs and the old cliche applies in that it is only ‘half-time’.”
One encouraging aspect for the Blades in terms of their chances of overhauling a one-goal deficit is just how much playing on the road seems to suit the players Clough has assembled.
This term, Premier League duo QPR and West Ham United, the latter on penalties, were dumped out of the cups by United on their own patch, while one of only two defeats at Ashton Gate for champions Bristol City came against the Yorkshire outfit.
Asked why United are such a potent threat away from home, Flynn replied: “I am honestly not sure why. I can’t answer that. Maybe we just have players who thrive on the big occasion.
“We have gone away all season and shown what we can do. We won at Bristol City when they were flying high. We went to QPR, another difficult place, and won.
“Barnsley was another. They were nine games unbeaten at the time, but we played excellently to win. It shows we have it in us. We just need to take our chances.
“We have shown all season long what we have in us away from home.
“Plus, we know what we have to do. We have to win, which is different to how it was the last time in the play-offs when we had that cagey mindset at Yeovil.
“It didn’t start well that day and that set us back.
“At Swindon, we know we have to attack and, as we have shown, we are a team capable of getting at the opposition.
“We have nothing to fear. Instead, we are all looking forward to it.
“Our season now basically boils down to one game. We have played a lot of games, but it boils down to 90 minutes. For all that hard work, this is what matters.
“We have to give our all and I am confident we can do it.
“Goals change games – and we can go there and score goals.”