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Match Previews

2015/16 preview - introducing Sheffield United FC

12 June 2015

Meet Millwall's League One opponents

SHEFFIELD UNITED


Founded: 1889


Stadium: Bramall Lane


Nickname: The Blades


Position: Fifth in League One


Manager: There are numerous reasons why football fans are familiar with the name of newly appointed Sheffield United boss Nigel Adkins.

Millwall fans may remember him as the man behind the Scunthorpe team who scuppered The Lions' promotion hopes in the 2009 League One Play-Off Final at Wembley. However the neutrals in the audience may remember him for the unusual trajectory of his journey from player to manager.

Most aspiring managers, having hung up their boots, immerse themselves in the fields of coaching and club academies. Adkins, however, chose instead to nurture the physical needs of his charges rather than their footballing skills - as a club physio.


Adkins playing career began as a goalkeeper at Liverpool, but he was released without appearing for the first team.


In 1983 he was picked up by Tranmere and went on to make 86 appearances for Rovers before moving to Wigan Athletic, where he ultimately picked up a double spinal fracture that curtailed a highly promising playing career.


Adkins' first taste in management came at Welsh side Bangor City where he took on the role of player/manager in 1993. His time there proved to be fruitful adding two League of Wales Championships to the team's trophy cabinet.


It was at Bangor that Adkins career took an unconventional turn. After bidding goodbye to the valleys in 1996, he enrolled at the University of Salford on a Physiotherapy degree, and following his graduation, joined the backroom staff at Scunthorpe United.


His managerial opportunity arose following the departure of Brian Laws when he was appointed on a caretaker basis, but after losing only one of his first six games in charge, he had impressed sufficiently to earn himself the post on full-time basis.


The Iron's winning momentum continued, securing the League title and promotion to the Championship for the first time in over 40 years.


The following season saw the honeymoon come to a juddering halt with relegation back to League One, and then further euphoria with an immediate return, once again, to the Championship in 2009 via the Play-Offs. The Lions were the beaten finalists that day.


In September 2010 Adkins took over at Southampton and if his influence at Scunthorpe had galvanised the players, his appointment at St Mary's would put a depth charge under the team. He steered Saints to back-to-back promotions, securing their path to the the Premiership on the final day of the 2011/12 season in front of a club-record crowd.


Adkins parted company with Southampton in January 2013 after a difficult start to the season and, shortly after, was drafted in to help a Reading side also struggling for survival in the Premiership. On this occasion, however, his golden touch eluded him and Reading succumbed to relegation and Championship status.


After a steady first season back in the second tier, Reading's stuttering start to the following campaign saw Adkins relieved of his position in December 2014 after a humiliating 6-1 defeat by Birmingham City.


Adkins was appointed Shefield United manager on 2nd June 2015 and the club are confident that his proven track record of getting teams promoted from League One will prove invaluable as the sleeping giant that is Sheffield United looks to return to the Championship once more.


Key player: It was probably with a degree of relief as well as a huge amount of pride that Jamie Murphy accepted the 2014/15 Player of the Year award for Sheffield United at the close of last season.


Since signing for The Blades, on a three-and-a-half year contract back in January 2013, the front man's fortunes had ebbed and flowed with the comings and goings of various managers, finding himself in and out of favour and a regular first team place elusive.


However, the Scotsman stuck to his guns, his form improved, and finally earned him a coveted regular first team place. His plaudits for the 2014/15 season include the POTY award, a 12 goal tally plus an extension to his contract which will keep him at Bramall Lane until 2017.


Murphy began his career in the youth ranks at Clyde, before moving to Motherwell, where, in 2006, he would sign the first of two professional contracts which would keep him at the Scottish side until 2013. The young striker was being courted by a number of clubs before Motherwell accepted an offer from The Blades and Murphy headed south.


International honours were also bestowed upon him as he clocked up 14 caps for the U21s to go with his four U19 caps.


Top scorer: Jose Baxter (13 goals)


Head-to-head: The Blades have a small advantage over The Lions in previous encounters with 21 wins to Millwall's 18 in all competitions. The remaining eight games have finished as draws.


Millwall's record in recent meetings has not been so great, however, with Jody Morris' fifth-minute strike at Bramall in April 2005 handing The Lions their own win in the last seven outings against The Blades.


When we last met: Loan striker Kevin Lisbie grabbed an injury time equaliser for The Lions at Bramall Lane back in February 2011.


The Lions had travelled north hoping to improve on a set of dire results away from SE16 which had not seen a win since the previous November.


Millwall dominated long spells of the game and looked comfortable for at least a point, when a hugely controversial penalty decision handed the advantage to The Blades.


The decision, which prompted Millwall manager Kenny Jackett to comment "It was such a bad penalty decision it was embarrassing", allowed Daniel Bogdanovic to slot the ball home from the resulting spot-kick and put the home side 1-0 ahead with 13 minutes remaining.


Prompted by the injustice of the penalty decision The Lions laid seige to the Sheffield penalty area, with several efforts going agonisingly close in the dying minutes. But with just seconds of normal time remaining a pin-point corner from James Henry found Lisbie lurking menacingly in the box, and his low drive finally breached the Blades defence.


Not content to sit back on their laurels, The Lions continued their onslaught in injury-time and were indeed unlucky not to steal the three points from a Sheffield side who could do little but heave a collective sigh of relief at the final whistle.

Sheffield United:
Simonsen, Montgomery, Doyle, Jordan, Yeates, Quinn, Parrino, Bent (Cresswell, 67mins), Collins, Evans (Bogdanovic, 67mins), Lowry. Subs not used: Lowton, Long, Ertl, Nosworthy, Calve.

Scorer: Bogdanovic (77mins, pen)


Millwall: Forde, Dunne, Barron, Abdou, P.Robinson, Purse, Schofield (Lisbie, 79mins), Trotter, T.Robinson (Harris, 71mins), Morison, Henry. Subs not used: Mildenhall, Eastmond, Hackett, Smith, Askou.

Scorer: Lisbie (90mins)

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