Nigel Adkins, the Sheffield United manager, has challenged his players to improve their match craft ahead of tonight’s match at Exeter City, writes James Shield.
Adkins issued the directive after performing an in-depth analysis of performances during the opening two matches of the League One club’s pre-season campaign.
United head to St James Park searching for their third win in as many outings following victories over Ilkeston FC and Cheltenham Town.
Reflecting upon events at the World of Smile Stadium, Adkins said: “It was very frantic, end to end stuff. To be honest, I’d like us to have a little bit more control but at least it was entertaining for supporters.
“We scored three and that was good to see. We made a poor decision for their goal, admittedly, but the fact we responded in the right manner was a positive.”
Che Adams, Michael Higdon and Jose Baxter were all on target against Gary Johnson’s side who briefly drew level when Amari Morgan-Smith pounced just before the interval.
Higdon converted when a set-piece, taken by new signing Martyn Woolford, was only half-cleared by the Cheltenham defence.
Adkins added: “We’ve spoken about wanting to be effective from corners. Set-pieces are something we’ll be really concentrating on and so that was good to see.
“It was a great delivery by Woolly and then, for Jose’s goal, Kieron Freeman started a great counter attack which carried on through Jamie Murphy.
“So, from our perspective, we scored three very different goals. And that’s another positive for us.”
With the likes of Matt Done, Ryan Flynn, Bob Harris and Paul Coutts nursing injuries, Adkins selected Woolford in an unfamiliar role at full-back.
“When you look at him going in there, with Jamie Murphy in front of him, that’s a very attacking proposition down that side,” he said. “We are trying to manage our way through because some people are still missing since last season and we want to get them fit as soon as possible.
“But, for those players who have been asked to perform a task they wouldn’t usually do, it’s great for their footballing education.
“We’re building towards the season and that’s why we are changing things around with regards to the personnel.
“We have some 60 minutes in the first game and others 30. That was turned on its head at Cheltenham and, at Exeter, we are planning to flip things around, where possible, again.”