With two games remaining in the regular League One season, the race for automatic promotion couldn’t be much tighter. Sheffield United are now just one point ahead of their steel city rivals, Sheffield Wednesday, and must now contemplate life without top scorer, Ched Evans.
Evans, 23, was sentenced to five years in prison, this week, after being found guilty of rape. It now seems likely that his promising football career is at an end.
Evans, who signed for Sheffield United from Manchester City, in 2009, for a reported £3m, had scored 35 goals, this season, and had been instrumental in launching the Blades towards the Championship.
Following his side’s recent defeat to MK Dons, Manager Danny Wilson commented: “you miss a player who scores 35 goals in a season, of course you do”. Sheffield United’s second top scorer, this season, is midfielder, Lee Williamson, who has scored just 12 goals.
The club will undoubtedly miss Evans’ potency in front of goal. The Blades do have striking experience in their squad, with the likes of Richard Cresswell and James Beattie, who have both scored heavily over the years, available to Wilson.
Despite the defeat, Wilson was positive about United’s chances: “you're dealt little blows at certain times in the season, every club is. We've had a couple, this season, that we've dealt with, and we'll deal with this one”, he said.
Sheffield Wednesday could temporarily regain second spot in the league, if they win away at Brentford, next Saturday; their game kicks off two hours ahead of United’s clash with Stevenage.
The final weekend of the regular season sees the Blades travel to Exeter, whilst the Owls host Wycombe. Both Sheffield clubs will be hoping to make this their last action of 2011/12, to avoid the dreaded play-offs. United are the favourites for promotion to the Championship, after the triumphant Charlton, at 2/7 with YouWin.