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28 April 2018 Venue Bramall Lane Attendance

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Match Previews

Sheffield United vs Preston North End Match Preview

27 April 2018

Both sides head into this weekend’s game knowing that a win is required to give them any hopes of extending their season.

It’s the Blades’ final home game of the season and the Lilywhites’ second trip to Bramall Lane this season, having lost 1-0 to a Billy Sharp penalty in the FA Cup in January.

That was a tight affair, as was North End’s 1-0 home win over Chris Wilder’s side at Deepdale back in December, however, this could well be a much more open affair with both sides knowing that the win will put pressure on the teams above them in the table.

Both sides are seen in the outside world to have punched above their weight this season, but inside both clubs there will be a feeling of deserving to be at least where they are and both will be wanting to end the campaign on a high, so it should be a thrilling encounter.

Ref Watch
For the third time the season, our match official for Saturday’s big game at Bramall Lane, sees Isle of Wight official James Linington taking charge of North End…

Click here for the story

Stat Attack
Our final away league game of the season sees us back in Sheffield only four weeks after we faced Sheffield Wednesday and this is of course our third visit to the city this season following our FA Cup fourth round tie at Bramall Lane in January…

Click here for a full statistical look at the game

Ticket Information
Ticket sales for this weekend's final away game of the regular season are already approaching 1,500 and are still on general sale…

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Or click here to buy a ticket for the game

Opposition View
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder is contemplating shaking up his side as they face the Lilywhites in their final home game of the 2017/18…

Click here for his thoughts on the game

PNE Team News
Manager Alex Neil will give late checks to two of his most experienced players ahead of the clash with the Blades…

Click here for the latest team news

Match Coverage
On Saturday afternoon, if you can’t make it to the Bramall Lane, then you can sign up for a £5 match pass and watch the game – with full match commentary – live on iFollow PNE…

Click here for details of how to follow the match

Alex Neil’s Thoughts
Manager Alex Neil has reiterated the importance of victory on Saturday at Bramall Lane as his side look to keep their Play-Off hopes alive…

Click here to watch the manager’s pre-match interview

Tom Barkhuizen Preview
Tom Barkhuizen wants PNE to finish the season as strongly as possible, with a Play-Off spot still in sight…

Click here to hear from the forward ahead of the clash with the Blades

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Match Reports

Sheffield United 0 Preston North End 1

28 April 2018

Alan Browne’s ninth goal of the season kept the Play-Off race going to the final game of the 2017/18 season as the Lilywhites picked up only their second league win at Bramall Lane in 40 years.

The Irishman showed real desire to be first to the ball and slot home from eight yards out after Josh Harrop’s 25-yard strike had been pushed away by Blades keeper Jamal Blackman.

First Team News

Manager Credits ‘Resilient’ Victory

28 April 2018

The win put Alex Neil’s men two points behind Derby County, ahead of the final weekend of the season, where the Lilywhites entertain Burton Albion and the Rams face Barnsley, both opposing sides needing to win their final games to avoid relegation.

The North End gaffer said after the game that it hadn’t been his side’s prettiest performance of the campaign, but that was irrelevant as they picked up the three vital points on their third visit to Sheffield this season.

First Team News

I am More Confident Than Ever Says Alan Browne

28 April 2018

Harrop was one of three changes to the side that drew with Norwich the previous week, with Ben Davies and Sean Maguire also coming into the starting XI, with Paul Huntington recovering from his hamstring problem to partner Davies – Tom Clarke fit enough for a place on the bench.

The visitors started the game brightly and had the first real chance on 15 minutes when Callum Robinson broke into a left hand channel and then into the box, checking back to shoot, only for Lee Evans to make a fine block at the striker’s feet – the No.37 playing as one of a front two alongside Maguire.

However, it was Chris Wilder’s team who had the better of the rest of the opening period. Former North End loanee Leon Clarke had a shot blocked by Paul Huntington after a ricochet in the box presented the United No.9 with a chance to shoot 12 yards out and then am excellent block at point blank range by Declan Rudd to also denied Clarke, who had bustled his way through the tackles to the edge of the six yard box.

Right on the interval a vital moment came as Greg Cunningham – superb on the afternoon, wearing the captain’s armband and leading by example – made a stunning header to deny John Fleck, with an effort that looked destined for the top corner from 15 yards until the full back’s intervention.

But after the break the opening quarter of an hour were key to the outcome of the game and saw PNE at their best.

Five minutes in a Maguire cross-cum-shot into box beat Blackman and seemed destined for the net, until Chris Basham cleared from a yard off the line.

But on 57 minutes the winning goal came. Harrop picked up the ball 25 yards out to the left of the goal and fired a powerful goalbound effort that Blackman could only push out. Two Blades defenders and Browne burst towards it and to start with the No.8 looked second favourite, but he bust a gut to reach the ball first and slot home from close range to send the 1,610 behind the goal into raptures.

After the goal there were changes made by Alex Neil, with Paul Gallagher, Tom Clarke and Tom Barkhuizen introduced and three of them all combined to almost bring a second.

Gallagher’s free kick from 40 yards out was whipped in with real pace; it was flicked on by Huntington to Barkhuizen at the back post, who headed back across goal to where Clarke nodded home from close range.

The assistant’s flag went up, however, and the goal was disallowed, although post-match video evidence gave no apparent reason why as Barkhuizen had been onside and headed the ball backwards for Clarke, so he could not have been offside – a strange decision, which thankfully did not prove important come the final whistle.

United were lucky not to end the game with ten men, when skipper Billy Sharp twice threw an elbow then his head at Tom Clarke, but referee James Linington decided a talking to for both of them was all that was needed.

The final 20 minutes was well-managed by the greens, Declan Rudd making one fine save to tip over from Fleck just five minutes for the end, but Blackman was also needed at the other end, Callum Robinson sent through by Ben Pearson, only to see his 20 yard strike tipped up and over the bar, but it was not to matter as they held on for the vital win.

Sheffield United line-up: Blackman, Stevens, Fleck, O’Connell, Basham, Clarke, Sharp (c), Freeman (Baldock, 76), Stearman (Leonard, 81), Evans (Brooks, 66), Duffy. Subs not used: Moore, Lundstram, Donaldson, Lafferty.

PNE line-up: Rudd, Fisher, Cunningham (c), Pearson, Huntington, Davies, Browne, Johnson (Clarke, 68), Maguire (Barkhuizn, 58), Harrop (Gallagher, 67), Robinson. Subs not used: Maxwell, Moult, Earl, Bodin.

Attendance: 28,569 (1,610 PNE fans)

Referee: Mr J Linington

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Ticket News

Alex Neil On Must Win Game For PNE

26 April 2018

Manager Alex Neil has reiterated the importance of victory on Saturday at Bramall Lane as his side look to keep their Play-Off hopes alive.

North End sit four points outside of the top six, but with six points still to play for it's game on as far as the gaffer and his team are concerned.

With a number of teams still in with a chance of making the Play-Offs, Saturday's game becomes even more crucial and the PNE boss is expecting an entertaining encounter against Sheffield United this weekend.

Speaking to iFollow PNE, the manager said: "I think at this stage of the season it's always great because it's make or break for a lot of teams and it's a tough place to go.

"I've been to Sheffield United quite a few times, I went there last season when they won the league and it was a really good atmosphere so I would imagine it would be very similar.

"It's strange because sometimes the more you go for it, the more you can cancel each other out to a certain extend so it will be an interesting game.

"I'm sure Chris [Wilder] will have his thoughts on it and how they plan on going about it, obviously we will have ours. We understand that we need to win the match, nothing other than a win is going to do, so we will approach it as such.

"I hope the game is much more entertaining than the cup game, because that wasn't a particularly good game. We have been in good form away from home so we want to go there and try and do the business for the fans and hope that they have a good day."

To make the top six, North End will be reliant on other results going their way but the manager isn't focusing on that and insist that first and foremost his team must do the business on the pitch before thinking about the results of others.

"When you start worrying about what is going on elsewhere then ultimately you've not done enough yourself. We have got to take care of our own business, the simple fact is we need to go and win this game and then see where that takes us and hopefully it goes to the last game.

"If it does, then it's going to be really exciting for everybody because then everybody will watch the other scores and that's the joy of football.

"We will wait and see what happens, on Saturday we just need to focus on that one, go and hopefully try and finish the season off strongly because we've had a good season in terms of being in and about it for such a long period of time. We certainly don't want it to peter out over these next two games.

Should North End fall short of a place in the top six, the gaffer is aware of what his side need to do to kick on next season, something that is an exciting prospect for the PNE boss.

"I don't think we look at our season and think we've done great, I think we look at our season and think we have done well however we wanted to try and get there and if we had done certain bits a bit better then we might have got there.

"You can do that with most seasons, what we've got to make sure is that we get those decisions right that make games, if we can do that I'm excited for next season in terms of what we can bring.

"I think hopefully we will do a bit of work in the summer in terms of recruitment and we can only go in to next season stronger."

Watch the full interview with the gaffer ahead of the weekend by clicking on the video above.

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