Christ almighty, that Championship is fuckin' great value isn't it?
As the traditional Good Friday fixtures in the English Football League, it was Chris Wilder who was hoping that his Sheffield United side could arise from an untimely mini-slump over Easter Weekend that could salvage the Blades hopes of automatic promotion to Premier League paradise.
Knowing a loss against the Martin O'Neill - Roy Keane led travelling forces of Nottingham Forest could offer promotion rivals Norwich City the opportunity to wrap up one of those two most coveted automatic berths when they take on the Blades cross-town rivals Sheffield Wednesday this evening, Bramall Lane bayed for a win. And a win they got, thanks in no small part to their Irish contingent.
The home side took the lead through a speculative curling effort from Mark Duffy in the 51st minute, shortly after Forest centre-half Yohan Benalouane controversially saw red for a last-man tackle. But having thrown away leads in each of their previous two matches against Birmingham City and Millwall, that second goal became oh so important, and it was a certain Dubliner who would relieve the tension, in what has been a standout personal season.
Laid on by international teammate David McGoldrick, Enda Stevens hammered a left-footed drive across Costel Pantillimon and into the far corner of the net to send the Blades fans into rapture - and the candystriped masses were quick to lavish praise on a player, who despite becoming disillusioned with the game only a few years ago, has been one of the Championship's performers of the season.
No better left back in Championship than Enda Stevens.
— Marcus (@Marcus93__) April 19, 2019
Enda Stevens might be my player of the year. Been class this year #sufc
— lilley mused (@lilleyII) April 19, 2019
ENDA STEVENS WHAT MAN 😍
— Gem 💎 (@GemTollerfield) April 19, 2019
Stevens, who was playing in the English Football League's bottom tier only two years ago with Portsmouth, secured a move to United at the end a successful campaign on the south coast that saw Pompey promoted to League One.
It's clear that some of the fans that used to cheer him in the Portsmouth blue foresaw the former Shamrock Rovers man believed it wouldn't be long before the former Shamrock Rovers man made his way back to the top of the game domestic game, after a few years of struggle having failed to make an impression at Aston Villa when first crossing the Irish sea.
— DH (@blukeryy) April 19, 2019
This afternoon's win for Sheffield United has set things up tantalisingly at the top of the Championship table. The Blades have moved to within four points of the Canaries in top spot, and have leapfrogged Leeds United for the moment into second place.
The Whites will hope to move back ahead of their Yorkshire rivals with a win at home to Wigan, before Norwich take on Wednesday at Carrow Road later.