PLAYING a day after most of their play-off rivals over Easter clearly suited Sheffield United.
Not only did the Blades take maximum points from their derby double-header against Barnsley and Doncaster Rovers but the club’s advantage over the chasing pack was stretched from five to eight points.
For Matty Done, however, the fact United’s rivals were in action as he kicked his heels either in a hotel room or at home proved more a curse than a blessing.
“I found it really strange not playing when most of the other teams were in action over Easter,” explained the 26-year-old to The Yorkshire Post ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Oldham Athletic.
“It was horrible, in many ways. We trained on the Friday and I didn’t know what to do with myself afterwards. Our match schedule was normal, Saturday-Tuesday.
“But with the others mainly playing the day before, I was in the hotel and trying to watch TV on my laptop. I didn’t really want to look at the other scores too much on my phone.
“I know it is all about what we do. And that you can start driving yourself up the wall by following how others are doing, which is what happened as the teams above us or below us were winning. That wasn’t enjoyable seeing those results.
“But, in the end, everything worked out well and we got the results we needed. That has to be the focus because if we do keep winning then we are in the play-offs.”
Done has enjoyed a fine start to his career at Bramall Lane. Signed on the final day of the mid-season transfer window, the winger netted four times in his first three appearances.
He has since gone on to score seven goals in 11 starts, taking his tally for the season to 21. Quite a return for someone whose previous best came in 2010-11 when the Oswestry-born man netted five times for Rochdale in 33 appearances.
“I came here to score goals so to have seven is pleasing,” said Done, who netted in Tuesday’s thrilling derby triumph over Doncaster and also earned the penalty that Jose Baxter converted.
“The move is going really well and I am delighted to be at Sheffield United. I scored in front of the Kop against Doncaster and there were 20,000 people there. That is a special feeling.
“To put us 2-1 up was great. It is a pleasure to play for this club. If I can keep scoring goals, including maybe one at Wembley to take us up, then that would be a great season. I have never played there before so it would be huge.”
May 24 and the League One play-off final is, of course, some way off. United have a decent points cushion but with back-to-back away games at Boundary Park and then Yeovil Town, there is still plenty to do.
What will surely stand Nigel Clough’s men in good stead during the run-in is an Easter period that yielded two wins in vastly different circumstances.
Against Barnsley, the Blades dominated and were well worth their 2-0 winning margin. Doncaster, however, were the better side on Tuesday at the Lane and that meant United had to dig in to get the three points.
“I think we showed in both Easter games that we can win in different ways,” added Done. “Doncaster played very well so it was a big credit to us.
“They were brilliant on the night and have some very good players. Going behind 1-0 in a derby is never easy but we kept going and got the points.
“But we dug deep, whereas on Saturday it was as near to a perfect performance as you’ll get. The two wins give us belief to take into the remaining matches.”
Even after two away games in four days, United’s fixture list still contains a couple of potential banana skins with Bradford City on April 18 and Chesterfield on the final day still to come to the Lane.
“We have won a few games lately and we have momentum,” added Done. “But we just want to get that play-off position.
“To get six points out of two derby games was massive. The performance at Barnsley was a massive plus for the lads, too.
“Near enough perfect in terms of an away performance, as the gaffer said afterwards. And to back that up by coming from behind against Doncaster was credit to the lads.
“We still have work to do. You can’t say we are there until it is mathematically certain that we are in there. The pack below keep chasing us so we have to keep winning games.
“Swindon lost as we beat Doncaster and we gained a bit on them. But we have to keep going and build some momentum to take into the play-offs.
“Chesterfield, Rochdale and Fleetwood put the pressure on us the day before and we answered in the best way with another derby win.
“Now, we just want to focus on finishing strongly. All we can do is concentrate on our results. We don’t look at the position or the points, just the next game. History has shown that if you take momentum into the play-offs then you have a good chance to go up. And that is what we want.”