Sheffield United wiped off the hysteria of their FA Cup victory at Aston Villa with a trip to relegation threatened Nott's County last weekend and came down with a devastating blow despite starting the game in high spirits has they fell to a 2-1 defeat. They had got off to a perfect start, starting where they had finished off at Villa Park a week’s previous - in a positive attacking mood and within two minutes were a goal to the good through on loan Liverpool midfielder Conor Coady who smashed beyond the keeper following a cute lay-off from Chris Porter.
Coady and United missed further chances and put the bout beyond the Magpies who hit back and found themselves level on 26 minutes when Jamal Campbell-Ryce crossed into the box and hit Enoch Showunmi on the chest who directed past George Long in the Blades goal. Appeals for handball in the County box from scorer Showunmi was turned down by the referee as the first half drew to a close.
The second half began in high tempo with both sides wasting good opportunities to take a lead in the game before Mark Fotheringham (who spent time on trial with the Blades in July 2009) seeing his far post header saved by Long before he bundled home the rebound from Alan Sheehan's cross. The result leaves United just one point safe from the bottom four relegation spots.
Blades boss Nigel Clough has no injuries to be concerned about and will be boosted by the return of youngster Diego De Girolamo who on his return to competitive football following a long lay-off through injury netted twice in a 4-1 win over Coventry City U-18's last Saturday, he may be considered for the bench.
Possible Blades Line-Up (4-4-1-1):
McMahon - Maguire - Collins - Hill
Flynn - Doyle (c) - McGinn - Coady
On loan Doncaster Rovers forward Billy Paynter is likely to be included amongst the 18 man squad to face Bradford City, one of his former clubs. He signed (on loan) from Southend United in January 2007 and remained at Valley Parade for the remainder of the season. He scored on his Bantams debut in a 2-2 draw with Nottingham Forest in League One and went onto net a further four more goals before returning to Roots Hall. During his time with the West Yorkshire club he notched 15 (0) appearances and scored five goals.
Bradford City hosted Bristol City last weekend where a 1-1 draw took them to mid-table and seven points behind the play-off pack. Bradford's run of home matches without a win was extended to eight as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Bristol City. Bradford, without leading goal scorer Nahki Wells who was transferred to neighbours Huddersfield Town last week, made a great start, taking the lead in the first minute through James Hanson who the Bantams will now look to provide the goals in Wells absence. Hanson got his head to a left-wing corner from skipper Gary Jones and, as the visitors' defence failed to clear, the ball came back to the tall striker, who stabbed it into the net just inside the near post.
But City equalised after 11 minutes when a long ball out of defence from Derrick Williams was headed on by Jay Emmanuel-Thomas into the path of Scott Wagstaff, who scored with an angled shot into the far corner from the edge of the penalty area. The visitors took charge after their equaliser, but Bradford had a great chance to regain the lead a minute before the interval, only for Garry Thompson to fire across the face of goal with only goalkeeper Elliott Parish to beat. Both sides hit the post in an exciting second half, Emmanuel-Thomas for Bristol City; substitute Jason Kennedy for Bradford, but neither team could force a winner.
The Bantams, who have won only once in their previous 16 outings (all competitions) and haven't won since they recorded a 3-2 victory at MK Dons on 23 November 2013 are expected to be without midfielder Ricky Ravenhill who had to retire from last Saturday's match through injury just 20 minutes in and is unlikely to be fit to face the Blades. They will also be without left full-back James Meredith who broke his foot in training ten days ago and will be sidelined for several weeks.
Meanwhile midfielder Nathan Doyle (groin & hip), winger Raffaele De Vita (thigh), striker Andy Gray (dead leg) and Andrew Davies (knee) are all sidelined through injury and unlikely to make a return at Bramall Lane - though defender Matthew Taylor (hamstring) has returned to training and could be considered.
Possible Bantams Line-Up (4-4-2):
Darby - McArdle - McHugh - Bates
Thompson - Kennedy - Jones (c) - Reid
Hanson - McBurnie
The Bantams are likely to field four former Blades to face their former club; Andrew Davies, Kyel Reid, Mark Yeates, Andy Gray could all feature.
Davies served United whilst on loan from Stoke City in September 2009 and remained at Bramall Lane until late December that year. He made his debut in the much memorable 3-2 victory over rivals Sheffield Wednesday and made his last appearance in a Blades shirt at Bristol City when Darius Henderson notched a hat-trick. He returned to the Britannia Stadium having made 7 (+1) appearances for United.
Reid was signed on a free transfer in July 2009 after being released by West Ham United but having spent a year with United failed to make an impact and after a loan spell was signed permanently by Charlton Athletic in July 2010. He made his debut in the League Cup, a 2-1 home defeat to Port Vale and in all made 1 (+7) appearances for the Wizards.
Yeates was signed from Middlesbrough in January 2010 and was part of the side which was subsequently relegated into League One. He made his debut in a 3-0 victory over Reading and scored his first goal at Preston. In July 2011 he completed a move to Watford after making 30 (+26) appearances for the club and scored 7 goals.
Gray scored on his Blades debut on 28 February 2004 in a 2-1 defeat at Reading having completed a move from Bradford City (along with Simon Francis) a day previous. The following season he netted 18 goals in all competitions which sparked a move to Premiership Sunderland, a move which he made in August 2005. He left S2 having made 63 (+2) appearances and scored 28 goals.
Blades-Mad Prediction: Sheffield United 2 Bradford City 1