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Club News

Report: Town 5-5 Sheffield United (7-6)

11 May 2015

SWINDON TOWN reached the League One Play Off Final by an aggregate score of 7-6 after drawing 5 all with Sheffield United in a breathtaking match, writes Adrian Smith.

Town had raced into a 3 nil lead within 18 minutes thanks to Ben Gladwin’s brace and a Michael Smith goal only to be pegged back by two Sheffield goals before halftime.  Smith then added a 4th from the penalty spot before Davies pulled one back but Jon Obika extended Town’s lead again. However a strong finish by Nigel Clough’s team saw them score two goals in two minutes late in normal time and the Robins managed to hold out for the nine minutes of added time to seal their place in the League One Play Off Final at Wembley on May 24th .

Swindon kicked off playing towards the Town End on a bright Monday evening watched by the Sky Cameras and made a bright start taking the game to Sheffield United with Michael Smith putting the Blades defence under pressure. The Robins pressure led to them taking the lead in the 4th minute when Byrne crossed the ball from the right wing only for it to be headed away by Jay McEveley straight to Ben Gladwin who lashed home with a thunderous shot from the edge of the penalty area. Cue wild celebrations around the packed County Ground for Gladwin’s 10th goal of the season which gave Town a 3-1 lead on aggregate after the Robins victory at Bramall Lane on 7th May.

Nathan Byrne tried his luck after a typical mazy run but his effort went straight at United keeper Mark Howard.

However Town kept the pressure on and Smith forced a defender to lose possession and Byrne’s persistence led to him crossing from the 6 yard box to the back post where Gladwin tapped home into the empty net to double Town’s lead on the night in the 10th minute.

United’s first serious shot by Bob Harris in the 16th minute saw him shoot wide of the left hand upright after getting some space in the penalty area.

Town’s night just got better and better in the 19th minute and Michael Smith picked up the loose ball after a cross by Byrne and Smith fired past Howard to give Town a three goal lead. However the Blades were given a lifeline in the 19th minute when Jamie Murphy’s shot was deflected by Nathan Thompson which wrongfooted Foderingham and the aggregrate score was now 5-2 to the Robins.

Michael Smith earned a corner for Town in the 21st minute which was cleared downfield for a swift Blades counterattack but they lost their cutting edge when the referee Keith Hill penalised a forward for handball.

Michael Smith set Town on another attack in the 25th minute when he sent a good ball down the right wing for Byrne to chase and he eventually shot straight at the keeper after McEveley had been forced to backpedal.

A short freekick routine in the 28th minute led to Luongo charging into the penalty area before his shot was deflected for a corner which was cleared by the Blades defence.

Town wasted a fantastic opportunity in the 31st minute when a counterattack saw them outnumber the Blades defence but Luongo hesitated and was dispossessed.

Matt Done wasted a chance for the visitors in the 33rd minute when he fired high over the bar from close range with the goal at his mercy.

Town earned a corner in 34th minute after a Luongo shot had been charged down and eventually Gladwin shot but his effort was deflected high to the keeper who caught the ball easily.

Sheffield gave themselves another lifeline in the 38th minute when Chris Basham headed home unchallenged from 10 yards which lifted the volume amongst their supporters who had been subdued on the Stratton Bank.

There was a stoppage as the match entered the 42nd minute for Ryan Flynn to receive treatment and he was able to continue after a short time.

Jay McEveley was cautioned in the 45th minute for dissent after conceding a free kick and then Kasim stepped up to take the kick but his effort went well over the bar.

Three minutes of added time were played which saw United do most of the attacking but the Robins went into the halftime break ahead by three goals to two.

The first attack of the new half led to the Blades having three corners in the space of just over a minute but the Robins defence held out and the danger passed when the ball went out for a goal kick.

Marc McNulty did well to outpace the Town defence in the 53rd minute but his final shot went high over the crossbar and almost into the Town End carpark.

Nathan Thompson had to leave the field for treatment after taking a knock in the 54th minute and was replaced by Jon Obika.

Swindon were awarded a penalty in the 59th minute when the referee played  a good advantage after a foul in midfield and Hylton charged into the penalty area and lobbed the ball over the keeper who flattened him and the keeper  was shown a yellow card. Up stepped Michael Smith to fire the ball to the right of Howard to put the Robins ahead by four goals to two on the night and reignite the terrific atmosphere around the County Ground.

The Blades replaced McNulty with Stephen Davies in the 60th minute.

Anton Rodgers replaced Hylton in the 62nd minute with the crowd and he was soon in action in midfield charging down a defensive clearance.

The Blades again pulled one back in the 65th minute when Davies headed home unchallenged from a cross by Harris to give their supporters renewed hope.

Paul Coutts was shown yellow in the 67th minute for a very late challenge on Byrne and the resulting free kick was cleared by the visitors.

Wes Foderingham did well to catch the ball cleanly under pressure at a freekick in the 72nd minute after Turnbull had been penalised.

Swindon were awarded a freekick in the 75th minute when Byrne was tripped on the edge of the area but the ball was deflected for a corner when the kick was taken.

Town earned another corner when Byrne’s cross was headed behind by Davies but the Blades defence cleared the ball downfield.

Anton Rodgers was cautioned for a foul near the halfway line in the 78th minute as the Blades looked to counterattack.

Craig Alcock was cautioned in the 81st minute for a studs up tackle on Kasim near the halfway line but Town were unable to threaten from the resulting free kick. However the Robins continued to push forward in search of a fifth goal and their efforts were rewarded when Byrne passed the ball to Jon Obika who sidestepped two defenders before rolling the ball past Howard in the Blades goal.

Cue more wild scenes around the County Ground with chants of “we’re going to Wembley reverberating around the stadium.

Che Adams replaced Ryan Flynn in the 87th minute.

However the Blades still were not finished and they managed to pull another goal back through Done despite two fantastic saves by Foderingham in the 88th minute.

Still Sheffield came again and they incredibly scored a fifth goal on the night in the 90th minute  through Che Adams when he fired through a sea of legs to bring the aggregate score to 7-6 !

Ben Gladwin was replaced by Rossi Branco deep in added time as Mark Cooper tried to inject some defensive capabilities but the play continued to ebb and flow with Byrne being cautioned for a foul. Finally the referee blew the final whistle after nine minutes of added time to end a truly fantastic match with the sides having shared ten goals. A tremendous roar of relief greeted the final whistle with nerves well and truly jangled around all four sides of the stadium and both sides looked absolutely exhausted having given their all.

The stirring win means that Mark Cooper’s team now march onto the Play Off final at Wembley on Sunday May 24th where they will face Preston North End who overcame Chesterfield in their Play Off Semi Final.

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