Sharps wants end to play-off misery
IT WAS nearly ten years ago when Burton skipper Ian Sharps had his first taste of the play-offs.
Sharps was playing for Tranmere in the 2005 League One semi-finals and a 2-0 first leg loss to Hartlepool meant his side had a mountain to climb in the return fixture.
But Rovers fought back with two goals in the last 20 minutes at Prenton Park to force extra time and penalties.
With the scores tied after six spot-kicks each, a 24-year-old Sharps stepped up.
“When people talk to me about play-offs the first thing they ask me is about the penalty miss for Tranmere,” said Sharps.
His miss gifted Hartlepool a spot in the final and Sharps instantly became aware of how cruel the play-offs can be.
“It was my first experience of them and it’s something that I’ve accepted but if I get a chance to make amends then I’ll take it,” he added. “Obviously we have our penalty takers but if required I would step up.”
Since then Sharps has featured in the play-offs three more times – falling short on each occasion.
The first saw him on the wrong end of a 3-2 defeat when he turned out at Wembley in the League Two play-off final for Rotherham against Dagenham in 2010. A season later and Sharps was at it again; this time for Shrewsbury who were dumped out by Torquay over two semifinal legs.
And last season Sharps was part of the Burton side that finished fourth but were unable to overcome Bradford in a thrilling two-legged tie which finished 54 to the Bantams.
But, despite the disappointments, Sharps can’t wait to put the record right.
“We all look forward to playing in the big games and this is another one,” said Sharps.
“Obviously you can’t forget what happened last year but we are not going out there looking for revenge or anything like that.
“Sometimes nerves can get the better of you in massive situations and we just hope that doesn’t happen.
“I remember playing at Wembley and after 25 minutes I was sure I had played a full match – my legs had just gone. But walking out at Wembley is a special feeling and seeing your family in the stands is a proud moment.
“It was both the best and worst day of my career and hopefully I get the chance to go again.”
Burton take on the Blues having lost to them twice already this season, but Sharps is set to return after being rested against the same opponents in the 1-0 defeat last weekend.
He is likely to be joined by striker Billy Kee, who was also rested, while Zeli Ismail looks set to replace Marcus Harness.
And Sharps is looking to lay down a marker at the Pirelli Stadium.
“I would like to think the defeats wouldn’t have any bearing on how this match goes,” he added.
“We play the first leg at home so you always want to make sure you win your home games and take an advantage into the next match. This time around we have all been there and done it and we all know how much it would hurt to lose again.”