Liam Osborne, Sports reporter
Monday, May 7, 2012
On-loan striker says Boro want to take advantage of Blades’ despondency after missing out on automatic promotion
IN-FORM striker Patrick Agyemang says Sheffield United’s failure to secure automatic promotion could dent the Blades’ confidence going into the play-offs.
Boro’s 2-2 draw at Bramall Lane last week allowed Sheffield Wednesday to leapfrog their steel city rivals into second place, before the Owls sealed promotion with a win over Wycombe on Saturday, while Danny Wilson’s side could only draw 2-2 at Exeter and settle for third place.
And Agyemang, on loan from Queens Park Rangers, says it will be interesting to see how their play-off opponents deal with the pressure going into Friday night’s first leg at the Lamex Stadium.
“They’ve been up there for the whole season and to lose that place at the last minute will have been devastating for them,” said the 31-year-old. “It’s going to be a good test of their character to see if they can pick themselves up and go again. If they are up for it then it will be a good game but, if not, they are going to get turned over.
“We’ll be the underdogs but at the moment we’re in good form and the team is playing well, so hopefully we can take that into the upcoming games.
“We can definitely beat them. Obviously we were 2-0 up when we went there last time before we let in two sloppy goals. But if we can repeat that performance over two legs then we’ll make the final.
“It’s a great achievement. Obviously the club has had back-to-back promotions before and now we’ve got a chance to make it a third. I don’t think any team has ever done that so it will be something for the record books.”
Agyemang has admitted that he found life difficult when he first arrived on loan back in March, but after getting his match fitness back up to scratch – coupled with the team’s upturn in form – the striker says he is enjoying his football again having not played regularly for two years prior to Gary Smith’s intervention.
“When I first came here it was hard,” he added. “We’ve had to grind away on the training ground and in games but it’s all changed now. The team is working a lot better together, and I feel a lot fitter. The players are picking up different runs and we’re linking up well, creating more chances and scoring more goals.”
He also said Boro’s change in fortunes has been down to the influence of manager Smith. “He gets us to be confident on the ball and I think that’s something the team maybe lacked before,” Agyemang said. “Even though they had the work ethic, they didn’t have the confidence to pass the ball. When I first came here we were kicking balls off the pitch and things like that but now we’ve got defenders bringing the ball down, playing it to the midfielders, dropping balls into the strikers so you can’t ask for much more than that.”
When asked if a permanent move to the Lamex could be on the cards this summer, he replied: “It’s a possibility, but I just don’t know what’s going on at the moment. It’s good for me that I’m in the play-offs and obviously I’m getting a lot of coverage now so I’m just waiting to see what happens. But I’m enjoying my time at Stevenage.
“[QPR] might come down so if they get relegated things might be different, I’m not sure, but I’m also not sure my future lies with QPR anymore. Things are going great here at the moment. The boys are good, the manager likes me so I’m happy.”