Stevenage vs. Sheffield United

Last updated : 19 December 2013 By @blades_mad1889

Via the aid of goal difference and more importantly all three points against Swindon Town last Saturday Sheffield United moved up to 19th in the table after Jose Baxter's header separated the two sides. Jose Baxter scored the only goal of the game as Sheffield United bagged a deserved three points in their battle to beat the drop. The former Everton and Oldham striker claimed his second goal in the space of a week midway through the second half as Nigel Clough's side stunned high-flying Swindon at Bramall Lane. Town boss Mark Cooper was left infuriated by several of referee Scott Duncan's decisions throughout this hard-fought contest. But, on the balance of play, could have few misgivings about the final result. These two teams have experienced vastly different fortunes since reaching the League One play-offs last term. But it was United, embroiled in a desperate battle against relegation at the wrong end of the table, which made the brighter start although their promotion-chasing opponents improved as the first half progressed.

Wes Foderingham was fortunate to escape during the early skirmishes after spilling a long-range attempt from Tony McMahon before Baxter's free-kick appeared destined to hit the back of the net until ricocheting to safety off the wall. With Jamie Murphy, making his first start in two months, continuing to probe along the flanks, the visitors were firmly on the back foot until Nicky Ajose enabled them to establish a foothold in this absorbing contest. The centre-forward, on loan from Peterborough, drew a smart save from George Long before creating another opportunity for Ryan Mason. Again, though, Long proved equal to the task.

United could count themselves unlucky not to take the lead after creating three fine chances in the space of sixty seconds almost immediately after the break. First Baxter forced Foderingham to scramble clear with an angled attempt from the edge of the penalty area and, during the melee which followed; Ryan Flynn thought he had threaded a low drive through the crowd until the ball was diverted behind for a corner. Foderingham was beaten from the resulting set-piece but Chris Porter's side-footed effort struck the foot of a post. Nevertheless, United were not to be denied and got their reward just past the hour when Baxter pounced. Aidy White delivered a deep cross into the Swindon box and when Flynn nodded it back into the danger zone, the Liverpudlian timed his jump perfectly to turn home.

Stevenage reaming in the bottom four after cruelly been denied a victory over Port Vale last Saturday when Tom Pope headed an 89th-minute equaliser to earn Vale a hard-earned point in a 2-2 draw against 10-man Stevenage. Vale made a bright start and almost took a ninth-minute lead when Pope's header thudded against the crossbar from a Chris Lines corner. And Vale's dominance was rewarded in the 32nd minute when Jennison Myrie-Williams fired a penalty into the top corner of Chris Day's net after Ben Chorley had fouled Gavin Tomlin.

But Stevenage woke from their slumber to score in both of their first two serious attacks shortly before half-time. Jordan Burrow guided a right-footed shot low inside Sam Johnson's post after Francois Zoko skinned Chris Robertson to cross from the left. And Burrow turned to smash his second into the roof of the net with a left-footed effort from six yards after Zoko again caused havoc in the Vale defence. Stevenage were reduced to 10 men in the 71st minute when Michael Doughty, who had earlier been booked for time wasting, was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Carl Dickinson. And Pope finally rewarded increasing Vale pressure when he met Rob Taylor's left-wing cross with an unstoppable eight-yard header just inside Day's left-hand post.

The Boro will therefore be without Michael Doughty who will serve a one match ban having been sent-off against the Vale and will be available for selection at Colchester United on Boxing Day. They will however have at their disposal former Sheffield United trialist Filipe Morais and ex-Barnlsey midfielder Simon Helsop who both missed Boro's last match due to serving a one match suspension. Meanwhile Darius Charles (ankle ligament damage) is there only absentee through injury.

They are likely to field former Sheffield United midfielder Sam Wedgbury amongst the substitutes. He was signed by Neil Warnock in 2006 from non-league Worcester City but failed to make any first team appearances - during which he spent time on loan at Mansfield Town and Hungarian outfit Ferencvaros before, in May 2010 was allowed to leave the Lane and joined Macclesfield Town.

Blades-Mad Prediction: Stevenage 0 Sheffield United 1