Sharps wants end to play-off mis­ery

The Football League Paper - - BIG INTERVIEW - By Mar­ios Pa­paloizou

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.

Nerves

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.”

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