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Michael Taylor 10th May 2009 - 17:09

Back a battle at Bramall Lane

If Sheffield United fail to gain promotion to the Premier League this season then the name 'Beattie' could become outlawed around Bramall Lane.

After dominating the first leg of their Championship play-off semi-final against Preston, Blades fans were left wondering how they failed to come away from Deepdale with anything more than a 1-1 draw.

Or more precisely they were left wondering how much different things might have been had James Beattie not been replaced with the far less impressive Craig Beattie.

Craig, on loan from West Brom, was guilty of blowing two great opportunities that, had they been taken, would have pretty much ensured it would be the Blades travelling down to Wembley on May 24.

Instead, the in-form Lilywhites still have the Premier League firmly in their sight and, more importantly, the luck that saw them claim a play-off place seems to be around to stay.

Preston are 7/4 shots to qualify for the final and while it looks a daunting task for Alan Irvine's side following their poor first leg showing, it is not out of the question.

After all they did almost take a commanding two goal lead as Jon Parkin headed against the post following Sean St Ledger's scrappy opening effort and had 'The Beast's' shot gone in then the tie would have had a much different feel.

Parkin is a 15/2 chance to notch the first goal of the game at Bramall lane and if he justifies this price then the Blades might struggle to once again fightback from a goal down.

However, if the Blades find the net first then you have to believe they will go on to win given how they haven't lost all season once they get ahead - using this logic Sheffield United at 15/8 are definitely value to be leading at half time and full time.

One thing that does look a given is that this will be close.

Neither side will stop running when a multi-million pound money spinner at Wembley is at stake and I would be surprised if there is more than the odd goal between the sides at the end of the 90 minutes.

With this in mind the 11/2 about a 1-0 Blades win or the huge 9/1 about a 1-0 Lilywhites win look good bets.

The best tip I can give though is in avoiding the 2/1 about poor Craig Beattie finding himself among the goals, while Sheffield-born Neil Mellor also did little to justify the 9/4 about scoring.


7/4 Preston to qualify

15/2 Jon Parkin first goal

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