Sheffield United: Star complains Blades got a rough play-off deal

Chris Basham scores during the second-leg of Sheffield United's play-off semi-final at Swindon Town � copyright : Blades Sports Photography
Chris Basham scores during the second-leg of Sheffield United's play-off semi-final at Swindon Town � copyright : Blades Sports Photography

Mark Cooper, the Swindon Town manager, called it a “freak”, writes James Shield.

Nigel Clough, speaking after watching his Sheffield United side bow out of the League One play-offs, described Monday’s semi-final second-leg at the County Ground as utterly “bizarre.”

The 5-5 draw might have been the highest scoring and most dramatic match in the competition’s history. But, reflecting on the visitors’ 7-6 aggregate defeat, Chris Basham acknowledged “it was no consolation” being “involved in a game like that” at all.

“I can’t explain it,” the United midfielder said. “We set ourselves up to not concede in the first 20 minutes but we ended up 3-0 down. I honestly couldn’t tell you why it happened.

“I would say we both came out of the traps like we did at home but where we didn’t take our chances on Thursday they did in the return.

“There was a response and we went in at 3-2 down at half-time. But we just couldn’t get to a position where we were in the lead or even level.

We did get to within one goal with seven minutes of stoppage time at the end but we just couldn’t get that last goal. It was sad, very sad.”

Clough expressed reservations about the performance of referee Darren Bond during Thursday’s first-leg and Basham, who insisted Clough should continue in post next term, said Che Adams was unfortunate to have a potentially match-defining ‘goal’ disallowed.

“There is no consolation in being involved in a game like that,” he said. “Every lad was gutted, totally gutted, in the dressing room afterwards.

“We just needed one more goal and when the board came up saying ‘7 minutes’, I thought we would go on and win it.

“I thought Che’s goal should have stood. Again, we didn’t get much from the referee. We have had two referees across the two legs that didn’t help.

“These are big games, we are fighting for the Championship. They need to be on it, like the players. It didn’t help.”

“Their fans got all excited, despite only being halfway there,” Basham added. “We would be doing the same if we had won. You have to get on with it.

Credit to our fans, they could have jumped in the cars and gone home. But they didn’t. They still believed.”

Twitter: @JamesShield1

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