Clough lavishes praise on Wembley-bound Sheffield United players

Sheffield United's John Brayford celebrates scoring their second goal of the game during the FA Cup Sixth Round match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield.
Sheffield United's John Brayford celebrates scoring their second goal of the game during the FA Cup Sixth Round match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield.
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Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough did his best to deflect all attention from himself after leading his side to the semi-finals of the FA Cup after a 2-0 win against Charlton.

Scottish winger Ryan Flynn and on-loan Derby defender John Brayford struck second-half goals in the space of two minutes to seal the Blades a place in the last four for the first time since 2003.

Clough arrived at Bramall Lane in October not long after being sacked by Derby with the club lying second from bottom in Sky Bet League One.

A 2-0 win against Peterborough on Tuesday was their eighth straight win in all competitions - they are now 11th - and a ninth consecutive victory has ensured they become the first club from the third tier to reach the semi-finals of the competition since Wycombe in 2001.

“There’s not an awful lot of satisfaction for me personally,” said Clough, a losing finalist at Wembley in the 1991 FA Cup final as a player with Nottingham Forest.

“I don’t have a chart at home where you rank the games. I don’t honestly, it’s not about that.

“It’s about the players and supporters, especially this, celebrating together.”

The Blades have beaten Aston Villa, Fulham and Nottingham Forest in previous rounds and the momentum was clearly with them in front of a sell-out Bramall Lane crowd of 30,040.

Charlton had scuppered the chance of a Steel City quarter-final by beating Sheffield Wednesday in the previous round and gave as good as they got before the game’s turning point in the second half when winger Callum Harriott spurned a golden chance to put the Londoners ahead, dragging his 10-yard shot wide from in front of goal.

“We were nervous in the first 20 minutes and it was important to get in 0-0 at half-time,” Clough added.

“The atmosphere, it saps you when you’re not used to it and a lot of players playing in this sort of thing for the first time, this atmosphere takes your energy and it takes your breath away at times.

“To get to this stage as a League One club in the semi-final is an incredible achievement.

“No easy draws as well along the way, going down to Fulham and Villa Park and we’ve had a few breaks like here when the lad missed that chance.

“It’s essential that you get that little break at certain times.”

Chris Powell admits Callum Harriott’s costly second-half miss was the gamechanging moment at Bramall Lane, with Sheffield United cashing in to book their berth in the semi-final of the FA Cup at Wembley.

Shortly after Harriott, hero in the Addicks’ victory at Hillsborough in the previous round, fired wide with the goal at his mercy, the Blades took the lead when Ryan Flynn converted Jose Baxter’s cross on 65 minutes.

Two minutes later, John Brayford’s shot deflected off Richard Wood with the Blades proceeding to see out the game to triumph and secure a place at the home of football next month.

Powell said: “I have felt better...It’s a low point and obviously the opportunity was there for both clubs to go to Wembley.

“Full credit to Sheffield United, they are the ones who have grasped it.

“We had the chance to break the deadlock and that was the game-changer for me.”