Chris Wilder was both relieved and delighted in equal measure after Sheffield United’s late 1-0 win over Northampton on Saturday, as he also commended his former club for their resilient performance.
The Blades went to the League One summit thanks to Kieron Freeman’s emphatic finish which came two minutes from time after the hosts had knocked on the door without success.
That owed much to the defensive yet effective approach of Rob Page’s Cobblers, who came within minutes of an excellent and hard-earned point.
Wilder paid credit to his old side for the way they frustrated United but couldn’t hide his delight at the late winner.
“We’ll take it because it’s a great result for us,” he said afterwards.
“They were stubborn opposition and were tough to break down. They got deeper and deeper, and maybe we lacked a little bit of quality around the edge of the box.
“It just didn’t happen for us and they sat in and I totally understand and respect that.
“It would have been a great point for them or maybe they could have snatched something on the counter but we kept patient and we said whatever time we score the game will change,
“We went for it. I want us to for it and it was a great finish from Kieron.
“We were looking to get 50 points going into the new year and now the race is on and we’re bang in the middle of it.”
The win takes Wilder’s personal points tally to a staggering 105 for 2016, 55 earned while at Northampton with the other 50 coming at his boyhood club.
He added: “I have full admiration for my players in terms of not settling for it not being our day and making it our day.
“We’re going to go for it here, we have to. We sometimes might get done on the counter and we nearly did today but Simon Moore’s made a fantastic save.
“I think it would have been harsh on us to lose this game. Credit to Pagey and the opposition for setting up in the way he has done and making it really difficult for us and frustrating us.
“They did frustrate us but we ended up finding a way to win and that’s fantastic and a good way to sign the year off.”