Stevenage unable to break down blunt Blades

Boro and Sheffield United play out goalless draw in League 1 play-off semi-final

Stevenage 0 Sheffield United 0

League 1 play-offs: first leg

Stevenage will travel to Bramall Lane with everything to play for after Sheffield United got what they came for in the first leg of the League 1 play-off semi-finals.

This is a United side without Ched Evans, James Beattie and Richard Cresswell for a whole variety of reasons, and without them Blades manager Danny Wilson saw containment as the best policy to get anything from this tie and his team did just that.

Stevenage were, perhaps, the better of the two sides. They were certainly the most attacking – or at least they tried to be.

In truth, Danny Wilson’s men did a very good job. They put bodies behind the ball, they snuffed out the space Luke Freeman and Lawrie Wilson wanted to move into, they chased and harried and they did it extremely well.

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Boro will be disappointed that they didn’t manage to create more, but their opponents didn’t either. With a large, baying crowd expected at the return tie on Monday evening, and with Cresswell nearing full fitness, Stevenage can expect to see a different approach from United.

The best chance of this game fell to Craig Reid, who hit the crossbar from the edge of the box.

A good passing move between Freeman and Michael Bostwick created space for the front man, but his well-struck effort was just short of finding its target.

Before this game Reid had scored two goals in his previous two games, but it would not be surprising to see the front man on the bench for Monday’s game with manager Gary Smith likely to deploy the same 4-4-1-1 formation, with Robin Shroot behind Patrick Agyemang, that worked so well for the first 60 minutes at Bramall Lane just a fortnight ago.

There were other chances in this game – Stephen Quinn shot over Chris Day’s bar while Jon Ashton got close to converting a Freeman corner – but chances were too few and far between.

Boro now head into Monday’s game with everything to play for, and a place in the final at Wembley against either MK Dons or Huddersfield Town awaits the winner.

Stevenage: Day 6, Lascelles 6 (Myrie-Williams 82), Laird 7, Ashton 6, Roberts 6, Wilson 5, Byrom 5 (Shroot 71), Bostwick 5, Freeman 6, Reid 5 (Mousinho 64, 6), Agyemang 5. Subs: Julian, Beardsley.

Sheffield United: Simonsen 6, Lowton 6, Doyle 5, Flynn 6 (Cresswell 90), Williamson 6, Collins 5, Maguire 5, Porter 4, McDonald 5 (Ertl 90), Quinn 6, Hill 5. Subs: Taylor, Howard, O’Halloran.

Att: 5,802

Ref: Bates.