Reporter: MATTHEW CHAMBERS
Date online: 01 March 2012
Dickov’s cry to spread play
ATHLETIC boss Paul Dickov will drill into his players the need to shift the ball wide, quickly, as he prepares for the daunting task of taking on a Sheffield United side riding high after 12 wins in their last 15 matches.
The second half of the home draw with Colchester was a world apart from the first, performance-wise, as Athletic pondered in possession.
Despite being restricted in personnel, Dickov knows his side will have to perform far better at Bramall Lane to stand a chance of taking anything from the game.
“In the second half, on the two occasions we turned them Shefki (Kuqi) went through and then one of their players nearly scored an own goal with a pass back,” Dickov said after the 1-1 draw which gained an 11th point from the last five league games at Boundary Park.
“The way we like to play, we have to stretch teams to get our wide men on the ball. Especially in the second half, we had too many touches on the ball and their goal came from that.”
Second-half goals from Lee Williamson and Stephen Quinn, the latter coming eight minutes from full-time, gave the Blades a 2-1 home win over Scunthorpe last night.
The result helps put to bed fears of a hangover from a derby defeat to city rivals Wednesday on Sunday. But it only arrived after Scunthorpe had taken a 31st-minute lead through Mark Duffy and a later red card for the Iron's Sam Togwell helped turn the tide in favour of Danny Wilson’s men.
Athletic midfielder Chris Taylor (illness) may be back in contention for the United game, possibly providing competition for a role in central midfield for current incumbents Tom Adeyemi and Carl Winchester.
But Dean Furman is still missing for at least one week after suffering a setback with his knee injury and Robbie Simpson is struggling at present due to tight hamstrings.
One positive on the injuries front for Athletic is the return to training next week of winger Kirk Millar, whose foot injury sustained in a reserves fixture against Burnley last week is not as severe as was first feared.
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