Sheffield United continue play-off push as they visit the Lions’ Den


Sheffield United could move into fourth and further consolidate their play-off position by condemning Gary Rowett’s Millwall to only a second Championship home defeat in four months.

United’s resurgence under Paul Heckingbottom shows no sign of stopping with the Blades having only lost one second-tier match since the former Leeds United and Barnsley boss returned to the Bramall Lane hot seat at the end of November.

That fine vein of form has taken the Blades from an uninspiring, bottom-half position of 16th to only five points off the automatic promotion positions at the time of writing.

Ben Davies’ injury-time winner against high-flying Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday evening sparked wild celebrations amongst the home supporters and may prove to be a vital result in May, especially when Heckingbottom’s side played over 25 minutes with ten men following Charlie Goode’s red card.

Millwall, meanwhile, have also seen an upturn in form as of late. They have responded from an insipid first half of the campaign with three consecutive victories, including an admirable 2-0 triumph against London neighbours QPR.

Whilst a play-off position is likely to be just out of their reach, the Championship is renowned for its unpredictability and a continuation of their recent results could potentially lift the Lions into contention as we move towards the dying embers of the season.

Headline-makers Derby County have won a number of plaudits for their displays in the face of diversity, yet, were brushed aside by Rowett’s men with goals from Jed Wallace and Tyler Burey sealing a 2-1 win last time out.

Team news

There are two guaranteed absentees ahead of Saturday for Millwall, both Oliver Burke and Luke Freeman are ineligible to face their parent club after signing on loan from Sheffield United until the end of the season.

Likewise, the Blades will be without Goode who will serve the first match of his three-game suspension following his aforementioned sending off.

Forward duo Rhian Brewster and David McGoldrick, wing-back Jayden Bogle and defenders Jack O’Connell, Enda Stevens and Chris Basham also remain sidelined through injury.

Injuries mean that Rowett is unable to call upon the likes of Ryan Leonard, Tom Bradshaw, Sheyi Ojo, Benik Afobe and Maikel Kieftenbeld are all unavailable.

What the managers have said

Gary Rowett

The former Derby boss had no qualms about the fact his current side deserved to come away with three points against his former employers. Though, he did admit that the result should have been even more straightforward with the Rams’ goal being a cheap one to concede.

“I thought we were fairly comfortable first half and we had a period in the second where we looked really, really comfortable and it was probably the most innocuous ball into the box all game that ends up causing us a problem.

It made for a really nervy last five or six minutes and I felt like a last minute goal was coming but in fairness to the players we dug in and got what I thought was a deserved result.”

Paul Heckingbottom

As well as providing another important three points in the context of the season, Heckingbottom explained that the victory over Rovers also ensured that the bond between his players and supporters grew stronger.

“It’s the best way to win, for lots of reasons. Everyone will tell you who has been involved in games like this.

“For me, it reinforces everything we’ve been trying to do. We’ve been trying to get this place bouncing. We’ve been trying to reignite that connection between the fans and the players.

“Those decisions and Wes [Foderingham]’s save meant that the fans became the 11th man in the end, which was really important. The one thing which is a given is that the players will work hard, and fans respond to that.”


The reverse fixture between these two sides ended in a 2-1 victory for Millwall at Bramall Lane. Jed Wallace’s cross-come-shot put the visitors ahead only 11 minutes in before Billy Sharp equalized from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time.

Wolverhampton Wanderers loanee, Morgan Gibbs-White was then sent off for the home side after receiving a second yellow card for simulation in the penalty area.

With the game seemingly heading for a draw, towering centre-back Jake Cooper struck a tremendous effort from around twenty yards in stoppage time to seal an admirable win away from home for the Lions.

Prior to that, the Blades were previously unbeaten in four games against Millwall, including a 2-0 win at The Den in the FA Cup last season.

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