Kevin Gage Column: The weather looks lovely at Bramall Lane

Kevin Gage was impressed by James Hanson's performance (above) last weekend: Simon Bellis/SportimageKevin Gage was impressed by James Hanson's performance (above) last weekend: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Kevin Gage was impressed by James Hanson's performance (above) last weekend: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
So panic over at Bramall Lane, normal service has now been resumed!

The comprehensive demolition of a decent AFC Wimbledon side has settled a few jitters, steadied a few nerves and put an end to the “here we go again” brigade of some Blades who after past failures see one cloud on the horizon & expect a full scale storm! To be fair, they’ve been right in the past.

But I believe that with this current set of players, and the mentality being instilled in them by the management, any clouds on our promotion horizon are quickly dispersed these days. The only storm on Saturday was the way in which we tore into opposition, especially in a devastating second-half display of pace, power and precision.

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The early goal helped obviously, and the fabulous football in the build-up to the second was a joy to watch. For James Hanson to get a debut goal in such impressive style was a bonus and his excellent all-round performance also bodes really well for the future. It would have been easy to ‘snatch’ at that chance, or to blaze the ball over the bar, but he slotted it home superbly.

We scored four and quite frankly could easily have doubled that tally. Billy Sharp should have had another hat-trick match ball to add to his collection but we’ll allow him the ones that got away as I’d actually prefer him to be at his clinical best for the vital home games coming up. It’s early days I know, but on Saturday I also saw the makings of a potentially great partnership upfront. In the first few minutes Hanson won his first three headers, and Sharp instinctively ran in behind for the flick-on. Hanson gives the team a whole new dimension and whilst the last thing we want to do is stop playing our football and go more direct, it gives us an option to do so. As long as it doesn’t become our first option, I’ll be more than happy.

What was also pleasing was the fact that after our slip-ups recently, we did seem much more composed and secure defensively, and a clean sheet was overdue and most welcome. There have been quite a few calls for Jake Wright to be brought back to ‘steady the ship’ and I must say, I think he did just that. He goes about his work with the minimum of fuss, wins his challenges, and tidies up any sign of danger. I also love the way he manages to ‘poke’ the ball away from a centre-forward or gets enough on the ball to make them lose possession.

The big crunching tackles are great of course but sometimes it’s the little things that go unnoticed, although not by his team mates or the management I’ll bet. What definitely has been noticed is that we haven’t lost in any of the 16 games he’s played for us this season. In fact his record is amazing. He’s either a lucky charm, or a very good defender. I think I know which one it is. I’m told he also lives in Dronfield, and so goes even further up in my estimation. I need to buy him a pint. Just one though, obviously.

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And the icing on the cake of course was that we regained top spot as results went our way. All of us at SUFC send our thanks to SUFC (Southend United) for beating SUFC (Scunthorpe United)! Bolton seem to be having a bit more than a ‘blip’, as they’ve lost their last two home games to firstly a poor Swindon side, and then to 10-man Charlton.

Oh, and by the way, they’ve just have sold their top scorer. Imagine the scenes at The Lane if we’d sold Billy? The shoes would be off in the car park for sure!

So it’s looking good for us at the moment, but I’m sure there will be lots of further twists and turns on this promotion ride to the end of the season. So my advice is to buckle up, hold on tight and enjoy the ride! UTB

Kevin Gage owns The Manor House: bar/hotel/cafe, High St, Dronfield, S18. @ManorHouse_S18. Follow him on Twitter: @gageykev