Exclusive Josh Harrop PNE column

Starting last week's game at Sheffield United and having a hand in the winning goal was a great feeling.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 3rd May 2018, 8:00 pm
At Bramall Lane last Saturday
At Bramall Lane last Saturday

It was such a big game with a lot at stake, the win taking our play-off push into the final match.

For the goal, their defence had sat off a bit and it gave me the space to have a touch of the ball and then get a shot away – anywhere around the box I’m going to try and shoot.

The ball moved quite a bit, the keeper parried it and Alan Browne popped up to score from the rebound.

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He did well to get on the end of it, getting ahead of the defender to put it into the net with a confident finish.

It was a bit of a cagey game, probably not how we expected it to be.

I wouldn’t say we were nervous but the importance of the game probably made it turn out how it did.

We had an attacking side but didn’t want to go too all out and leave gaps.

A few times Sheffield United had chances and it was a case of biding our time and taking a chance when it came.

With 20 minutes to go, I came off because my legs were cramping up.

I didn’t want to be at fault for anything because I wasn’t moving as well, so I gave the gaffer the nod.

I’ve got to say that it was hard watching from the bench in those final stages.

Sheffield United were chasing an equaliser and the lads defended superbly and managed the game well.

It was probably the most anxious I have felt watching the closing few minutes of a football game.

On the bench we were just willing the lads on to make a clearance every time the ball came over into our box and to be fair, they did that.

The sound of the final whistle came as a big relief and everyone was buzzing in the dressing room.

Four teams dropped out of the play-off running last Saturday, which probably shows what this division is all about.

So for us to have stayed in the mix is testament to how well we have done.

We know what the job is on Sunday, we just have to focus on trying to get three points against Burton.

What Derby do against Barnsley is out of our hands and we can only look at that result if we do our job.

We have put in the graft all season and now it boils down to this weekend.

It’s an early kick-off with all the Championship games starting at 12.30pm.

That doesn’t affect our preparations too much if I’m being honest.

It just means you miss out one of your meals, basically breakfast turns into your pre-match meal.

You get up a bit earlier, have your breakfast and start getting your water on board.

For me, this season has been a learning experience and one I’ve enjoyed.

I would have liked to have played a bit more but I will take that as it is.

You see a different side of the game compared to where I came from.

At Manchester United, my focus was getting the ball and deciding what to do with it from there.

Here, I have started to think about the team and my positional play within it.

I’ve had to think about shutting off the lines to help stop the opposition play.

One player not knowing something properly about the tactics can mess up the whole formation, so you have to be switched on.

Every Championship game offers something a bit different – some are very good from a football point of view, others are a physical battle.

You have to be ready to change from week to week so that you know what you are up against.

It is a great bunch of lads here who have faced up to every challenge put in front of them.

Things haven’t always gone our way but that is the case with every club. If we can get sixth place and be in the play-offs, who knows what can happen?

I finished last season on a high at Manchester United and hopefully it can be a big finish for us this year.

We all want to get in the play-offs, the fans do, and we’ll be doing everything possible to try and make that happen.

It would be really exciting if we could do that.

It is coming up to a year since I scored for United against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on the final day of last season.

That was a big moment and a lot has happened since then.

I moved here and have worked hard to improve as a player.

All the focus is fully on Sunday now and hopefully it can be an exciting occasion.

If we do our job, who knows what could happen?