MURPHY AT THE DOUBLE FOR BLADES
Clough’s delight at late showing
NIGEL Clough was left beaming after this victory over league-leaders Swindon topped off a hugely satisfying week for the Blades.
Clough's cup kings maintained their promotion push thanks to Jamie Murphy’s second-half double.
The victory came at the end of a week when the Bramall Lane club made a clutch of new signings, handed new contracts out to key players and put in a terrific performance in their League Cup semi-final tie with Premier League Tottenham.
Clough made an astonishing ten changes to the side which pushed Spurs all the way during that second leg in their previous outing and he was delighted that his rotation paid off.
“It’s been a very satisfying week, especially when you consider we’ve put two nearly different teams out in the last two games,” said Clough.
“Some of the changes were enforced but that’s what you've got a squad for.
“It’s been a great week in terms of players coming in and players signing new contracts.
“It’s all positive stuff for the club.”
Murphy's introduction came just before the interval, after Michael Higdon nearly saw red for a flurry of petulant fouls. The replacement made a big impression, providing energy and creativity before bagging both goals inside the final 20 minutes.
Swindon had until that point been the dominant side.
The first half was a poor one in terms of genuine chances and was consistently punctuated by fouls from both sets of players.
Che Adams, fresh from a double against Tottenham, created United’s first real opening of the game ten minutes before half-time, when he controlled a crossfield ball and bent an effort just wide of the Swindon goal.
The visitors wasted at least three chances with Jonathan Obika and John Swift both fluffing their lines inside the area as the Blades scrambled to hack the ball away. In almost the final act of the half, United won a free-kick right on the edge of the area and Ben Davies stepped up only to see his effort bounce back off one post and roll across and hit the other, before being cleared away by the relieved visiting defence.
Swindon were the brighter side after the restart with a flurry of efforts from Andy Williams, Chelsea loanee John Swift and Obika all going close within the first quarter of an hour.
United settled down though and managed to string together a couple of efforts themselves, although Swindon’s well-drilled defence were proving a tough nut to crack.
The scoring was then opened with little over 15 minutes to play and it was super-sub Murphy who did the damage.
Louis Reed scampered down the wing and cut the ball into the path of Murphy, who found the back of the net with an incisive, first-time effort.
United were buoyed by the goal and they then soaked up the pressure and hit Swindon on the counter attack late on to secure the crucial second.
Centre-half Terry Kennedy provided the throughball and Murphy finished with aplomb to grab his second of the game and seal the points for Clough’s men against highflying Robins.
Swindon boss Mark Cooper reflected on an afternoon where his side just couldn’t find the back of the net no matter how hard they tried.
He said: “We should have been two or three up at half-time.
“Full credit to Sheffield United, they’ve done a job on us and they’ve got a lot of help here from external sources.
“We have to move on. I thought we had loads of opportunities in and around the box.
“We just need to be calm and roll the ball in, but we ended up taking too many touches or smashing it when a calm finish would have been enough.”
GOOD TIMES: Jamie Murphy celebrates with his Sheffield United colleagues
WHAT A FINISH: Jamie Murphy scores a second goal for Sheffield United
STAR MAN JAMIE MURPH