Digging deep: Billy Sharp hails Sheffield United's resolve as gap increases at the top

SOME nights are most definitely bigger than others in the promotion stakes.

Sheffield United's Billy Sharp celebrates scoring the equalising goal dagainst Oxford United on Tuesday night. Pictures: Robin Parker/Sportimage

Just ask Sheffield United’s talismanic captain Billy Sharp, who believes that the psychological merit of the Blades’ battling 3-2 League One victory at Oxford United is simply inestimable.

On an evening when Chris Wilder’s side were far from at their best, the visitors drew upon their considerable reservoirs of character, which have served them well on a number of occasions this term, to dig out a huge result.

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The value of the win was two-fold with United breaching the 70-point barrier with 10 matches still to go this season and also moving 11 points clear of third-placed Scunthorpe United, who slipped up 2-1 at Charlton.

Sharp, who fired a double to take his season’s tally to an outstanding 26 goals, said: “Credit to the boys, I am proud of them. We did not play well but got three points on a tough place to come on a Tuesday night.

“It is what teams do if they are going to get promoted. You have to win at tough places like this and we had to dig deep in the second half.

“We have 10 games to go and know what we have to do and I said to the boys in the huddle before that, psychologically, this was a massive game.”

Gloss has been provided for Sharp by virtue of his nomination for the League One player-of-the-month for February, which saw him celebrate his 30th birthday and score five times.

Sharp is just four league goals adrift of his tally of 30 goals which saw him pick up the 2006-07 Golden Boot award with Scunthorpe.

He added: “I am enjoying my football and the lads are providing me a lot of chances and, at the minute, I am taking them.”

The Blades have the weekend off to recharge their batteries for a final push with scheduled opponents Millwall travelling to Tottenham on sunday for the FA Cup quarter-finals.

Joey Barton’s Football Association hearing into betting charges has been postponed.

The 34-year-old Burnley midfielder was due to appear before an FA commission today, having accepted a misconduct charge relating to 1,260 bets over a 10-year period.

It is possible a lengthy ban could ensue and the Clarets were prepared for the fact that he could have played his final match for the club with his contract up at the end of the season.