MATT DONE is not one of those footballers who requires a ‘Never Give Up’ motivational video to get him going before games.
Proof of his old-school qualities were firmly in evidence on Tuesday evening, albeit in a disappointing losing cause in Sheffield United’s morale-sapping 2-1 home loss to Peterborough United.
Two goals in the final two minutes from Posh stunned the Lane faithful after Done’s fifth strike since arriving at the club from Rochdale in a big-money deal had seemingly eked out a vital win for the Blades.
The mood in the dressing room was decidedly sombre afterwards and despite news filtering through of setbacks for the automatic promotion-chasing trio of MK Dons, Preston North End and Swindon Town to temper slightly the Blades’ own bad night, it did little to lift the flat atmosphere.
Being flat is hardly an accusation that can be thrown in Done’s direction, given his vibrant start to his Blades career after heading over the Pennines on the final day of the winter transfer window on February 2.
His battery has been highly charged, with his non-stop display against Posh, before coming off late on after running himself into the ground, crowned by a goal, which owed plenty to persistence.
Done, a real grafter, cashed in on an error from rookie visiting defender Ricardo Santos and after seeing his shot blocked by Ben Alnwick, he adeptly headed in the rebound.
It owed much to ingenuity, but also to Done’s non-stop work attitude in what is turning out to be a special year for him – a season which has seen the former Barnsley winger plunder 19 goals.
It was just reward for a tireless display and while it was not exactly a wholly stellar performance, he kept going, which is something he and his Blades team-mates need to do if they are going to hang on in there in terms of their quest for automatic promotion.
The case for a top-two finish for the fifth-placed Blades – who welcome Fleetwood this afternoon in the first of 13 matches between now and season’s end – may not be currently overwhelming.
Preston, occupying the second promotion position behind Bristol City, are 10 points ahead of Nigel Clough’s side – but plenty can still change between now and May 3 and Done is certainly not giving up hope.
No one would dare suggest otherwise.
Done said: “With the way I play, I never give up. Especially at 0-0 at home, regardless of what time it is on the pitch, I am not going to give anyone a minute as a goal can come from nothing.
“If we get to nick a few more of them until the end of the season, then great.
“The group and squad will stick together as there are so many games coming up and the only positive thing about Tuesday was that there is a game to be played on Saturday.
“If it was Saturday to Saturday, it would have been a long week.
“But we can go again and hopefully put it right and put it to bed and get back to winning ways.”
The Blades players may have resembled wounded animals at their Shirecliffe training ground over the past few days, but a chance beckons to put things right in relatively quick time against the Cod Army today.
Done, who went up to League One with Keith Hill’s Rochdale last season, has experience – albeit limited – of coping with setbacks en route to a promotion outcome.
And he has garnered enough to realise that the important thing for the Blades is to accept Tuesday night’s development, take it on the chin and move on.
He said:“It was a hard one to take.
“When we came in and saw that a few other teams had lost and Preston had drawn in the 94th minute, in some cases it was a little tiny positive, but in another way it was a negative as we knew we had lost the chance of getting nearer the top two.
“After 85 minutes, we were 1-0 up on Tuesday and it was a fantastic opportunity lost. But now it is just about rolling your sleeves up.
“We need to go into the Fleetwood game, get the three points and then enjoy the rest until the game next Saturday.
“There will be 20,000 at Bramall Lane and we need to put a performance on for them and get three points.
“Not just for the sake of us, but for the sake of the fans and for the football club.”
It is the time of year when results, and not necessarily performances, can carry the most weight. Battling ferociously and chiselling out wins can be a precious quality.
Ugly can be beautiful in that respect, with Done determined the Blades will learn a valuable lesson.
He added: “It’s the start of March and pitches are bobbly and conditions aren’t good.
“It’s all about winning three points at this stage of the season and trying to get in that top two.
“The mentality we have got to have for the rest of the season is that we have got to fight and try and nick something from nothing.
“If it is not going our way and we are not playing as well as we would like to, we can’t go into our shells.
“We have got to roll up our sleeves and try and win a bit ugly. I thought we were going to do that on Tuesday but it slipped away right at the end.
“Even the best teams in the world can’t play well every game. You look at the amount of games we are playing at the minute, but the important thing is not losing.
“I remember at Rochdale last year when we were up there all season. We had a little wobble right at the end, but got promoted.
“At the turn of the year, we really started to turn it on.
“For us here, our plan is to go unbeaten for the rest of the season and see where that kind of run can take us.
“The important thing is to start again and not dwell on it.”