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Bramall Lane
Sheffield United v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Saturday, March 22nd, 2014, 1.25pm
League One

Jack Finch
(Wolves fan)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):

This was on paper, one of our toughest remaining fixtures. The Blades were on a sensational run of form under Nigel Clough, recently winning 10 games on the spin, as well as keeping 8 clean sheets in a row. We were in pretty good form ourselves, and although we came unstuck at Crawley in midweek, we were still top of the League. It was also United's 125th Anniversary, so a bumper crowd was expected. I hadn't been to Bramall Lane before, so I was looking forward to a new ground to tick off.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

I went on the official club coaches, which meant an early start, given the 1:25 kick off. We left Molineux at around 9:30am, and arrived in Sheffield at 12 noon. That included a 20 minute wait on the hard shoulder of the M1 for our Police escort. The journey into Sheffield was pretty easy. The coaches dropped us off outside the away end, so all in all the journey was pretty simple.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

I went straight into the ground, as I didn't fancy walking around too much. The home fans seemed pretty friendly, and obviously in celebratory mood, given their recent form, and anniversary.

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

I think Brammall Lane is, in a very real sense, a 'proper' football ground. I mean that in a complimentary way too. There are quite a few identikit stadiums knocking around these days, but you can tell Brammall Lane has bundles of character. The three home stands are all one tiered, with only our away stand being two tiered. However, the way the stand is built, you feel very close to the pitch even in the upper tier.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..

As expected, the game started at a rapid tempo, with United coming close to scoring early on, the lively Scougall forcing a good save from Carl Ikeme. Wolves took the lead soon after though, when James Henry's cross fooled everybody to nestle in the far corner. The first half continued in a similar vein, with both sides looking dangerous. United perhaps had more possession, but Wolves looked dangerous on the break. Richard Stearman did well to clear off the line, whilst at the other end Henry hit the woodwork with a curling effort. Arguably, the Blades were helped by a bizarre refereeing performance from Kevin Friend, who seemed determined to join in with the Blades' birthday celebrations. Every decision appeared to go their way, which led to ironic chants of "Free Kick, to the Wanderers!", when a decision did go our way!

Wolves doubled their lead just after the second half got underway. There was some good link up play down the right from Henry and Matt Doherty, and the ball broke to Dave Edwards, who finished with aplomb. I was surprised about the lack of response from the Blades after this, as aside from a couple of long range efforts, Wolves held their lead comfortably. Leon Clarke perhaps should have extended Wolves' lead, but fluffed two decent chances. Wolves play was sharp throughout, with signing of the season Kevin McDonald shining on his return to his former employer. I was also impressed by Sheffield United, and you get the feeling that had Nigel Clough been there all season, they'd be challenging near the very top of the League. In the likes of Doyle, Maguire, Scougall and Baxter they have some very capable players. In the end it was a hard earned but thoroughly merited three points to take home to the Black Country, taking us onto an impressive tally of 80 from 37 games.

The atmosphere was obviously helped by the occasion, and the parade of legends before kick off was a nice touch. Being in my 20's, some of the names weren't familiar, but the likes of Neil Shipperley, Simon Tracey and Georges Santos brought back memories of previous battles with the Blades. Both sets of supporters were loud throughout the game, with a fair amount of banter between us in the away end and the fans nearest us in the Main Stand.

The stewards were there if you needed them, but didn't get involved with the fans unnecessarily, which is how it should be in my opinion.

The facilities were decent, however the concourse was a little crowded, but there was still room to move. It just meant a bit of a queue to leave at the end, but with plenty of singing and chanting, it wasn't so bad. The 3 pie was very nice, and served with a smile too, which is always a bonus!

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

As before, the coaches were parked outside the away end, meaning it was a simple journey from the stand to the coach. There was no trouble with the home fans on their way home.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Overall, I would recommend a visit to Bramall Lane. Without naming names, there are quite a few soulless, out of town stadiums in this League, so Bramall Lane offers a chance to see football played in a proper ground, in a proper city. The day was helped by another good performance in what's turning out to be a good season for Wolves.

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