Sheffield United v Gillingham: Lane form keeps alive Blades’ play-off hopes

Sheffield United's Billy Sharp celebrates scoring against Walsall.
Sheffield United's Billy Sharp celebrates scoring against Walsall.
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IN a season consistent only for its inconsistency thus far, whisper it gently, but Sheffield United are finally showing some signs of conformity – at Bramall Lane at any rate.

The Blades, possessing just a slither of hope in their bid to break into the play-offs, welcome Gillingham tomorrow, seeking their fourth successive win at S2.

Their recent home form is – mathematically at least – keeping their outside chances of gatecrashing the top-six still just about alive, but in truth only a flurry of wins regardless of the venue will now maintain those hopes for the eighth-placed Blades, who have not won back-to-back league games this year.

Manager Nigel Adkins said: “If you took the Burton game away, we have been picking results up (at home) and you can see the improvement.

“Consistency in team selection is always very important and we had that in that middle period of the season when we only lost two games in three months and were nice and solid, but needed to win more games.

“We changed the system because we needed to win more games and now we have narrowed the amount of players we have got and there’s a good spirit about us and everyone is contributing in a big way now.

“We have been doing alright at home of late and our last couple of performances have been good and we have been scoring goals.

“We go into this game with confidence, even though we know it’s a difficult game and they are a team above us in the table, who will be looking to get a win themselves.

“But the atmosphere was good last week and we are looking for much the same again with everyone working hard.

“We are on that forward curve and have to take this game and then assess it and learn the lessons and move on.”

Meanwhile, Adkins says he is keeping level-headed and is confident he and his players will not be sidetracked by notions of revenge against a fourth-placed Gills side who trounced the visitors 4-0 on the opening day of the season at the Priestfield Stadium – in a horror first league match in charge for the Liverpudlian.

Adkins, whose side are eight points behind sixth-placed Millwall, added: “We have got to win a game of football and be disciplined in our manner.

“We have got to be competitive, which we have been and the players have been showing plenty of passion and competitiveness and playing good football and we have got to make sure we maintain that.”