It's been a usual occurrence that the Blades have hit bad form in during the month of February and regularly go through that period without a victory, but there slump seems to have happened in January and at the right time and hadn't won since Boxing Day until wins over; Bury (2-0), Colchester United (3-0) and Shrewsbury Town (2-1) saw them rocket up the league and into poll position and a win last Tuesday at home to Leyton Orient would have capped off a fine month and a 100% record. However, in a dire match the pair finished the game level pegging at 0-0 and United slipped to second behind Doncaster Rovers.
The fixture with Oldham will mark Blades boss Danny Wilson's 100th match in charge of United. He told BBC Radio Sheffield; (On this being his 100th games as Blades boss) "I didn't even know to be honest. I'm very proud though and hopefully we can mark it with a win. It could go right down to the wire and we need to be prepared for that if it does. We have to make sure that players aren't feeling under pressure at home. We need to relax a bit more. They got beat 3-1 by Everton in midweek but some of their play was excellent. They certainly weren't overawed and that will give them confidence."
Blades boss Danny Wilson is expected to name an unchanged side to face Oldham Athletic tomorrow, but on-loan Southampton forward Jonathan Forte (groin) who has missed the previous two matches is expected to miss out through injury whilst Dominic Poleon (on-loan from Leeds United) who made his first start against Orient will be hoping to retain his place.
Although on loan to League One rivals Shrewsbury Town the Blades have one former Oldham Athletic player on their books, forward Chris Porter, 28 was signed by the Latics from rival club Bury in June 2005 - scoring on his debut in a 2-0 win over Yeovil Town, and would later bag an hat-trick at Brentford in a 3-3 draw. The following season he netted 22 times before, in May 2007 he was sold to Motherwell. During his time with Athletic he made 60 (+15) appearances and scored 31 goals.
Oldam Athletic's FA Cup fairytale story ended last Tuesday at Everton, but they went down fighting in this cup replay that would have seen them into the Quart-Finals. After defeating Kidderminster Harriers (2-0), Doncaster Rovers (3-1), Nottingham Forest (3-2) and heavyweights Liverpool (3-2) they came unstuck against Everton, but the Toffees required a replay after drawing 2-2 at Boundary Park.
Everton stormed into a three goal lead with goals from Kevin Mirallas (15), Leighton Baines (34 (pen)) and Leon Osman (62) to effectively end the tie for Athletic, Matt Smith (64) netted a consolation two minutes later but it wasn't to be. In the league the Latics have won there last three fixtures but are only one point safe of the drop zone.
Caretaker boss Tony Philliskirk, who was once a Sheffield United player is expected to name a side which won't include, James Tarkowski, James Wesolowski (hamstring) and Carl Winchester (ankle); the trio are listed as doubtful.
The Latics could see former Sheffield United defender Connor Brown, 20 face his former club. He was a registered player with the Blades between 2010-2012 in the Academy but after a serious injury failed to break into the first team. He was released last summer where he joined Oldham Athletic.
:: Head-to-Head ::
There was once a point in history when this fixture between the Latics of Oldham and the Blades of Sheffield was a top flight fixture. Between 1991 and 1994, for three consecutive years this was a top flight game with the Blades having won promotion in May 1990 and Athletic the year after from Division Two, United were defeated away from home (2-1) but won the corresponding game 2-0 at home before in August 1992 the Premier League was born.
Sheffield United remained unbeaten during the two Premiership years that they, and Oldham were involved in - in 1992-93 season the Blades won 2-0 at home and drew 1-1 at Oldham. Before sides were unfortunate to suffer relegation in May 1994 and there 1-1 draw towards the end of the season gave either side little comfort in staying up, though United had won earlier on New Years Day, beating their Lancashire rivals 2-1.
Our first eighteen meetings all appeared in the First Division which at the time was the highest prestige in English Football; our first ever fixture came on Boxing Day 1910 at Bramall Lane with Oldham claiming a 2-1 win, whilst later that season (in April) the double was completed at Boundary Park with three goals scored to no reply. United extracted revenge the following season; winning 3-2 (at Oldham) and 4-0 at the Lane.
On 9 November 1985 in a Second Division clash at Boundary Park the Blades celebrated a 5-1 victory - here's hoping that Sheffield United taste a similar victory this weekend. Bizarrely, despite both clubs celebrating long histories we have yet to meet one another in any domestic cup competition.
Earlier in the season (13 October 2012) the pair drew 1-1 at Bramall Lane with the home crowed feeling that United should have had more points out of the game. United were poor in the first half and failed to accumulate any opportunities in front of goal, whilst the Latics saw a goal disallowed for offside. United were better in the second and were awarded with a penalty when Dave Kitson was man handled in the box; Nick Blackman (59th minute), now at Reading stepped up and coolly sent the keeper the wrong way to score and United looked to see a third straight win on the cards until substitute Smith steered home Baxter's cross deep into stoppage time.
|League form versus Oldham Athletic...|
* Statistics correct up to and including 26 February 2013
Blades-Mad Prediction: Oldham Athletic 0-1 Sheffield United