Laird in the zone for spot kick duties

Defender says statistics suggest Sheffield United view of ‘long ball Stevenage’ are inaccurate

SCOTT Laird says there was never any doubt that he was going to take his side’s late penalty in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Sheffield United.

Robin Shroot had been pencilled in for spot kick duties following recent penalty misses by midfielder John Mousinho, but speaking about his successful conversion Laird said he had been ‘in the zone’ and that nobody was going to deny him the chance to hit the winner against the Blades.

“I think Shroot is a very good penalty taker, but I was in the zone,” Laird, who himself missed a penalty at Morecambe last season, told The Comet. “I think getting the ball had been the quickest I’d move all game. I knew what I wanted to do. I just really wanted it and I put it away.”

Sheffield United had brought 1,400 fans for the match, most of which were behind the goal in which Laird scored his penalty, but the full-back said he had switched off completely from being distracted and knew exactly where he would place the ball once goalkeeper Steve Simonsen moved from his position.

“People ask if I always know where I’m going to put the ball and whether the crowd puts you off, but you just switch off,” Laird said.

“Your sole focus is on the game and you switch off the noise until after the penalty. The goalkeeper went down, and I just put it the opposite way.”

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United boss Danny Wilson was critical of the way Stevenage were awarded the penalty and said he thought Lawrie Wilson ‘took a tumble’. The Blades boss added that he also thought Boro played the ball long and were physical in their approach to the game.

Laird, however, disagreed and says the facts of the match actually suggested the opposite was the case, and the defender added that when it came to players going down too easily he thought Blades defender Matt Lowton did so when challenged by Mousinho, a free kick that led to United equalising after Mark Roberts had earlier volleyed Boro in front.

“We don’t mind what people say, we don’t care and we concentrate on ourselves,” Laird said. “It’s funny. We just laugh at it. You just look at the stats and we had more possession, more shots.”

Asked about the United manager’s comments about the Wilson penalty, Laird said: “He needs to look at their goal, their free kick. Their right back said it wasn’t a free kick himself.”