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Bramall Lane
Sheffield United v
  League One
  Wednesday, March 28th, 2012, 7.45pm
Chris Connolly
(Chesterfield fan)

A big Wednesday night match for both teams with United needing a point to go above their bitter city rivals and into second place, and the Spireites in dire danger of relegation. This is the first time for a few years that Chesterfield have visited both Bramall Lane and Hillsborough so this was a good chance to compare the two. I feel it has to be said that, for an away supporter at least, that in my opinion, Bramall Lane is far superior. The Leppings Lane at Hillsborough with its inadequate concourses and gangways, plus rather strict stewards, is not great.

There are no such problems at United’s away end, which is showing its age but is much brighter, friendlier and less oppressive. Having said that, it is a bit mean for the Blades to confine away fans to the lower tier where the view of the pitch isn’t so good. A low shot into the near goal could easily cross the line unseen by the fans since the advertising boards actually obscure the last few inches of the pitch at that end.
Car parking is not too bad since there are a lot of terraced streets around, while the ground is easy to find since it is close to the city centre and a bright splash of red. Fans of both sides mingled with no problem at all and many were munching on chips bought from one of the many fast food shops on London Road. No need for anyone to go hungry or thirsty here with so many caffs and pubs as well as chippies within easy walking reach.
Inside the ground, with five minutes to go before kick-off the Shoreham Street end was half empty and it looked as if United’s fans had decided for some reason to give the game a miss, but suddenly they all turned up and the ground looked a good 75% full when the match began. Obviously Blades fans like to get that last pint in before taking their seats. The first half of the match was even and the Spireites well deserved their equaliser just before half time, but the first 15 minutes of the second half turned into a massacre, with Ched Evans scoring a quick hat-trick to kill the game off. The last half hour saw both managers withdraw players to give them a rest before Saturday’s games with more vital points at stake, although, realistically, this defeat has just about closed the door on Chesterfield’s hopes of escaping the big drop.
No problems at all getting out of the ground, with, once again, red and white shirts mingling with blue with no hint of trouble. A few Blades fans had sung “Going down, going down” at us but that was only to be expected and all-in-all I’d say United’s supporters are less intense and less noisily partisan than Wednesday’s. Maybe their expectations aren’t as high, since, traditionally, the Owls have been the more successful and glamorous of the two.
In summary, going to Bramall Lane is a perfectly nice football experience in a traditional football area, and a day out to enjoy (unless, of course, your team decides to go to sleep and let three goals in within a few minutes) and one I feel happy to recommend.

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