Can do Blades
Two seasons ago, I saw Cody McDonald burst into a Norwich City line up doomed to relegation and confidently predicted he would fill his boots a league below – now, Jordan Slew is repeating the trick for Blades. Supporters are also obtaining solace from the emergence of Harry Maguire and David McAllister – earlier calls to blood these youngsters having fallen on deaf ears.
The snag is that McDonald is now a further level down at Gillingham (albeit doing very well indeed) and perhaps mindful of “doing a Houllier”, Adams went largely for experience at the Madejski Stadium this afternoon. Slew was partnered up front by a Darius Henderson who has missed most of the season through injury and both played excellently – the younger man was unlucky to see a goal chalked off after a rare Alex McCarthy error and the older returning to his alma mater with two goals.
In midfield, Stephen Quinn reminded us of his talents after a few years that have seen him struggle to match the potential shown in that lone Premier League season. Battling alongside the loyal Nick Montgomery, and on a day that Chris Armstrong was given a rousing career send off, it was a day for Neil Warnock nostalgists. Bjà¸rn Helge Riise and Lee Williamson also won tackles as Blades launched a comeback of extraordinary proportions.
Pulled this way and that by an effervescent Reading in the first twenty five minutes and looking decidedly shaky at the back, heads were down – but after Henderson’s first effort seemed almost to enter the net in slow motion, Yorkshire grit was on ample display. Neill Collins and Shane Lowry, looking cumbersome at the outset, were now winning headers and Steve Simonsen was near perfect in goal. That most beleaguered of big money signings for West Bromwich Albion, Joe Mattock showed what he could do and young Matt Lowton also showed spirit, capping off a season he can be proud of.
Of course Blades are as good as down after Crystal Palace beat Leeds, but there is some hope on this evidence. Player for player, there was little between the two sides today and one can hope that the confidence and momentum on show here, as well as the ability to field a winning unit that Adams displayed at Port Vale can now be translated to Bramall Lane.