BLADES ON TOP BUT FAR FROM PER­FECT

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FRONT PAGE - Richard Her­cock FOOT­BALL WRITER Email: richard.her­cock@ypn.co.uk Twit­ter: @RHer­cock­YPS­port

MAN­AGER Chris Wilder has chal­lenged Cham­pi­onship lead­ers Sh­effield United to strive for “per­fec­tion” as they chase pro­mo­tion to the Pre­mier League.

Af­ter a day when the three lead­ing York­shire clubs all spent time in top spot – Mid­dles­brough’s draw with Derby County saw them leapfrog Leeds United, who started Satur­day as lead­ers, but who were held to a 1-1 draw by Not­ting­ham For­est in the teatime en­counter af­ter the Blades beat Wi­gan 4-2 to reach the sum­mit – Wilder be­lieves there is more to come from his front-run­ners.

United were sec­ond-best in the first half at Bra­mall Lane, but took the lead through Chey Dunk­ley’s own goal be­fore Billy Sharp’s hat-trick se­cured a hard­earned three points.

Wi­gan man­ager Paul Cook hailed the Blades, stat­ing: “Sh­effield United are, for me, the out­stand­ing team in the di­vi­sion. Other teams might have bet­ter in­di­vid­ual play­ers, but they are the best team.

“Sh­effield United are, for me, a very com­plete team, they work so hard for each other and they played some re­ally great foot­ball.”

Wilder was less en­thu­si­as­tic about United’s per­for­mance. He said: “There’s still things we need to do, we are not there.

“We are not an ar­ro­gant team, the play­ers were a lit­tle bit sub­dued in there af­ter­wards. They un­der­stand that they weren’t at their best, there’s no kid­ding them, they are good, hon­est foot­ballers.

“From my point I thought the score­line was flat­ter­ing for us.

“There was a lit­tle bit of re­al­ism in the chang­ing room af­ter the game.

“I thought we were ex­cel­lent on Tues­day night (in a 1-1 draw with Stoke City). Some­one said to me we gave the ball away three times in the sec­ond half and that’s not a bad ra­tio in a foot­ball game against Stoke City.

“There were a lot of re­ally good things on Tues­day night, but not so many good things [on Satur­day]. But you are not al­ways go­ing to be at your best, and you never turn down a win.

“I am af­ter per­fec­tion in what we do. We have to strive for that, be­ing good from box to box, and in both boxes, be­ing good for 95 min­utes, un­der pres­sure, on top.

“We ask that ques­tion all the time, and we have to. If we set­tle for medi­ocrity then pos­si­bly that is where you end up or even be­low that.

“I am de­lighted for the play­ers be­cause it’s a big win for us and I am de­lighted we have gone back top of the di­vi­sion.”

Striker Ke­mar Roofe in­sisted Leeds had taken a step in the right di­rec­tion af­ter quite lit­eral- ly hand­ing the Whites a 1-1 draw with Satur­day evening’s Cham­pi­onship vis­i­tors Nott­ting­ham For­est.

Marcelo Bielsa’s side looked to be head­ing for only a third de­feat of the sea­son af­ter again con­ced­ing from a cor­ner as Jack Robin­son headed For­est into an 11thminute lead.

But af­ter United had squan­dered a host of chances Roofe put Leeds level by bundling home a Ma­teusz Klich cross from close range with his arm with eight min­utes to go.

Roofe said he had un­in­ten­tion­ally hand­balled, but the in­ci­dent was not spot­ted by ref­eree Geoff El­tring­ham and his team who the player sim­ply said were re­spon­si­ble for al­low­ing or dis­al­low­ing the goal.

The draw nev­er­the­less dropped Leeds from top spot into sec­ond – two points be­hind Sh­effield United – but Roofe said United were still mak­ing progress in their at­tempt to achieve their ob­jec­tive of pro­mo­tion come May.

“It’s one point in the right di­rec­tion, with a bit of frus­tra­tion,” said Roofe.

“For­est are one of the favourites to go up and we knew it was go­ing to be tough.

“But we grinded it out and we man­aged to get a re­sult.”

Re­flect­ing on drop­ping from top spot into sec­ond, Roofe said: “To be hon­est we don’t re­ally look at the league be­cause it doesn’t mean any­thing at the mo­ment.

“No one has won any­thing right now, no one is get­ting pro­moted right now.

“It’s all about the end of the sea­son, but we will keep plug­ging away and hope­fully we are there at the end of the sea­son.

“We’ve got a re­sult from this game and we are an­other point in the right di­rec­tion.”

HAT-TRICK HERO: Sh­effield United cap­tain Billy Sharp with the match ball af­ter his hat-trick.

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