SHAUN MILLER has had a few sleepless nights of late.
Not, as might be expected, because of Sheffield United’s precarious position in League One, Nigel Clough’s side being in the relegation zone and just one point above bottom club Stevenage.
No, the reason why the 26-year-old has been struggling for a bit of shut-eye is his baby son, Zac.
Born a little under three weeks ago, Zac has been keeping his parents awake and Miller, United’s goal-scoring hero in the FA Cup fourth-round replay win over Fulham on Tuesday night, has been doing his share of getting up in the middle of the night.
“I have had a little bit of sleep since Zac was born but not a lot,” said Miller after netting the 119th-minute winner that put the Blades through to the last 16 of the Cup.
“It is why I quite like away games, as it gives me a full night’s kip. My missus might not agree because she doesn’t get that sleep.
“My son was born a few weeks ago and I want to dedicate the goal against Fulham to him. It was a special moment, I was in the right place at the right time.”
Miller’s modesty may be endearing but it also does not do justice to either his headed finish or the manner in which United played at Craven Cottage on Tuesday night.
The game itself may have been instantly forgettable with both goalkeepers rarely called into action. But, considering 47 places separate the Londoners from United, that is to the immense credit of the League One outfit who more than matched their illustrious hosts.
For the Blades, Tuesday’s win represented their second victory at the home of a Premier League outfit after dumping out Aston Villa in the third round.
The two performances were very different, with the 2-1 win at Villa Park coming on the back of a fluid attacking performance from the Yorkshire outfit.
Tuesday was a much grittier affair with Clough’s side making a point of flooding midfield and frustrating a Fulham outfit that featured many more big names than had been the case when the two clubs had met at Bramall Lane on January 26.
Miller, sporting a black eye from a training collision with team-mate Neill Collins, said: “It was different to Villa. But we deserved it. The lads performed tremendously and showed great discipline in defence.
“We reduced them to hardly any chances and I always fancied us to nick it either in extra-time or penalties.
“The lads had been so impressive for not only the 120 minutes but also the previous 90 at Bramall Lane. For the lads to put in a performance like that was pretty special.
“I watched normal time from the bench and I thought we had the better of it. We restricted them to one shot on target. That is an achievement in itself against a Premier League team.
“The whole team defended as a unit. The longer it went on, the more we thought we could nick it.
“It was an unbelievable feeling to get a goal like that in the last minute. To send us through like that and so late on was just brilliant.
“When I came on, I felt I could have a chance of doing something because it had been so open.
“We were counter-attacking really well and, in the end, that proved to be how it worked out.”
For Miller, netting the winner against a Premier League club was a sweet feeling. It was only in October that he returned from cruciate ligament damage, an injury that kept him out for the best part of nine months.
The former Crewe Alexandra Academy graduate is hoping United can keep progressing in the Cup but he also admits that turning round their league form is the utmost priority for the Blades.
As they were upsetting the odds at Craven Cottage, two of their relegation rivals were in league action.
The news was mixed with bottom club Stevenage beating Gillingham to move to within a point of the South Yorkshire club. Bristol City’s defeat at home to Coventry City was the good news, the Robins being fifth bottom and now just one point above United but having played two more games.
United host Shrewsbury and Brentford before returning to Cup action a week on Saturday and Miller admits the season is entering a crucial phase. He said: “We need some consistency in the league and to take the mentality of the last two Cup games away from home. We were solid through the back to the front.
“If we don’t concede, we don’t lose. We always have that quality in the side to get a winner. We have to focus on that in the league.
“We have two big home games in the league and we need the points. We have a hell of a lot to come in terms of games because of the Cup run.
“Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday is how it is going to be for some time now. Everyone is going to be needed and we will all have to work hard.
“As for the Cup, I don’t know how far we can go. We just keep this mentality about taking it one game at a time. Hopefully, we can keep going.
“But we must start taking this into the league. We enjoyed Tuesday but now we are focused on Saturday. That is a huge game. We have to start taking these cup performances into the league and getting some points.”