Defensive warning to Blades

Billy Sharp pulled a goal back for United, but they couldn't rescue a point against Colchester
Billy Sharp pulled a goal back for United, but they couldn't rescue a point against Colchester

Sheffield United’s players have been warned that they must tighten up defensively, or risk missing out on their “ultimate goal” of promotion to the Championship.

Nigel Adkins, the League One club’s manager, made the admission after Tuesday night’s 3-2 defeat at home to Colchester, which came days after a 3-1 reverse - again at Bramall Lane - to Bury.

United, who travel to Bradford City on Sunday for a televised Yorkshire derby, won four straight league games after their 4-0 loss at Gillingham on the opening day of the season - but boss Adkins has warned his side that they must stop conceding sloppy goals.

“Football is a simple game,” the United boss said.

“You keep it out at one end, and stick it in the other. Give Colchester credit; they were the better side, especially in the first half, but we still had chances to force an equaliser before Billy Sharp missed his penalty. But two of the goals we conceded should have been stopped well before they got near our goal, and we can’t concede like that if we’re to achieve our ultimate goal of promotion.

“We’ve let a midfield player waltz through us on too many occasions, and I’ve learnt a lot about the group tonight. We need to do better and I’ve got a lot of work to do behind the scenes to rectify that.

“As I say, football’s a simple game, really, and we’ve got to do better than we are doing at the moment.”