Sheffield United traveled down to Buckinghamshire for their final away match of the season. The Champions still had work to do, as they were aiming to break the club’s points record and set up a chance to tally a century of points for the season. MK Dons were comfortably in mid-table, unable to reach the play-offs but also safe from relegation. This is my day out in words.
It’s all about the journey…
The Handsworth Blades descended on the Cross Keys, as is the case for every away game, but there was a real buzz around the place, even more so than usual. We had already been crowned champions after Bolton’s loss against Oldham last week so, in a way, the match was irrelevant. What did matter though, was having a good time and celebrating one of the best seasons in our history.
As has become somewhat of a tradition, many fans decided to go in fancy dress, which was a laugh in itself. Ozzy Osbourne, Pamela Anderson, Gary Madine, Bannana Man, Wonder Woman and co-owner Prince Abdullah were all in attendance but the most common accessory were magic hats, à la Jack O’Connell.
After a quick pit-stop for refreshments in Stony Stratford, we found ourselves outside the ground and it is without doubt, the strangest football stadium I’ve ever been to. It reminded more of Disneyland than League 1, with its long and perfectly straight avenues and endless car-park. For those that have never been, Stadium: mk is located in a huge retail park, the size of which is simply staggering!
But saying that, as much as I knock MK Dons for existing in the first place, I have to admit their ground is first class. I always prefer the old grounds because of their history and character, but Stadium: mk is what all new stadia should be modelled off of. It’s clean, has brilliant views of the pitch and has good seats (although I didn’t use mine, as is the way on away days).
Even before kick-off, the atmosphere in the concourse area of the ground was magnificent. With 7,250 away fans in attendance, the noise was deafening, with chants of “We’re not going to Wembley” ringing out around the ground.
Chris Wilder had made one change to his side, James Wilson filling in for Jake Wright at the back. Tufty clearly wanted to give the masses of Unitedites the best chance of going home happy with his strong team selection.
The Blades asserted themselves from the off and after just nine minutes, Billy Sharp hit the post when it looked easier to score after excellent work from Coutts and Basham to tee the skipper up. After a decent effort from O’Connell, United were almost made to pay for not taking their chances as MK Dons hit the post they struck the post.
There was also a nice tribute to the late Ugo Ehiogu, with Blades fans applauding in the 33rd minute (his squad number) as a mark of respect. He only played one season at Bramall Lane but his passing at such a young age has hit the footballing world hard. Once a blade, always a blade, RIP Ugo.
The half seemed to be fizzling out but Leon Clarke continued his amazing late-season form by scoring his sixth goal in the last five games. A good corner ball in from player of the season Fleck and a decent header from the big man left MK’s keeper helpless, 0-1 at the interval.
Simon Moore was called into action a few times in the second half, but the League 1 Goalkeeper of the year was in fine form yet again. After a defensive mix-up, Sharp pounced to fire his 28th of the season in and send the Red and White Army into bedlam. The players weren’t about to let their foot off the gas though, Matt Done, Fleck and others all testing the MK Dons defence.
But it was that man again, Billy Sharp, with yet another goal with ten minutes to go. Coutts was being dragged to the ground but he laid the ball on an absolute plate for Sharp who slammed home his 29th of the campaign, surely, he is due another to make it 30 next Sunday?
0-3 the final score, another win, another clean sheet in a match that we honestly dominated and a ground that we always used to struggle at. This team has a work-rate and swagger about them that will take them very far. I guess that’s why we’re champions.