Stevenage vs. Sheffield United
Updated Friday, 11th May 2012
Sheffield United travel to Stevenage for the first leg of the League One Semi-Final Play-Offs tonight were a win would put them in good stead ahead of this Monday's clash at Bramall Lane.
Danny Wilson's United eventually drew 2-2; coming from a goal behind to put them in a strong position. Former Glasgow Rangers striker Alan Gow (24 minutes) put the Grecians in front - his volley from the edge of the box flying past Steve Simonsen. United were reduced to ten men when James Beattie's (37) reckless challenge on James Dunne warranted a red card.
The sending off did nothing else but rejuvenate the visitors and a minute before the break were back in the game; Lee Williamson (44) sweeping home Matt Lowton's shot and shortly after half-time Kevin McDonald's (47) long range effort deflected past City stopper Artur Krysiak. The Owls promotion to the Championship was all but confirmed when the hosts levelled three minutes into injury time; Scott Bennett (90+3) heading home after Guillem Bauza's initial effort had been saved.
United and Stevenage met one another almost a fortnight ago with the two sides drawing 2-2 in front of live Sky TV. A win would have put them into poll position ahead of the weekends game at Exeter but could only muster a 2-2 draw after coming from behind in a tense game. Joel Byron (31) and Scott Laird (47) both fired the visitors into a two-goal lead.
Changes were made with winger Ryan Flynn and striker Richard Cresswell (for Stephen Quinn and Chris Porter) entering the field and it paid dividends when the former Sheffield Wednesday and Stoke City striker (63) headed the Blades a life-line, Chris Day in the Stevenage goal made good saves to keep the Blades at bay but there net was penetrated when Matt Lowton's (85) far-post volley flew into the net; 2-2. Despite further chances United couldn't find a winner.
Stevenage had won the earlier fixture on Boxing Day by a single goal but in the end it was United who finished highest, a good 17 points ahead of tonight's opponents but it all boils down to these two games.
Following his straight red card at Exeter, striker James Beattie will serve a four match suspension and will almost certainly miss the play-offs unless a successful appeal is made. Having been sent-off earlier in the season at Charlton the former Rangers and Stoke City striker will serve more than the usual three match ban.
Meanwhile fellow defenders Lescinel Jean-Francois (knee) and Chris Morgan (knee) are both absent through injury whilst striker Will Hoskins is sidelined after an operation last weekend and Ched Evans is unavailable.
Stevenage qualified for the end of season play-offs after a last day victory over Bury, it was a comfortable victory which saw the hosts net three times but in the end only qualified for the top six after racking up a superior goal difference over Nott's County who were breathing down their necks.
The Boro, who have been beaten just once in sixteen games expect to name a full strength side having no injury concerns.
The opposition could field former Sheffield United striker Jordan Slew, 19 - who is currently on loan from Premier League outfit Blackburn Rovers. Having signed professional terms with the Blades in August 2010 he made his way through the Academy and was part of the FA Youth Cup side which lost out to Manchester United in the final, he made his first team debut in a 1-0 defeat at home to Watford and scored his first goal at Preston (lost 1-3) with United unable to prevent themselves from relegation.
He left the Blades in late August 2011 in a transfer worth £1,000,000, joining the Ewood Park club after making 9 (+3) appearances in a red and white shirt and scored three goals.