Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, has ordered his team to clean up their act against Gillingham this weekend.
United remained on top of the League One table - six points clear of third-placed Bolton Wanderers - despite being beaten 4-1 by Walsall five days ago.
Although the result upset Wilder, the manner of the goals conceded displeased him even more and has prompted coaching staff to remind every member of the squad about their defensive responsibilities ahead of the meeting with Adrian Pennock’s side.
“If you concede really poor goals, you give yourself an uphill task and that’s what we did there,” Wilder said. “The second-half (at Walsall) killed us because we’ve not defended. And you saw what happens if that’s the case. It’s not the norm, to be fair, but we don’t want it happening again.”
Only Scunthorpe have scored more goals in the league than United this term; a figure which masks the fact they have kept fewer clean sheets than any other team in the top six. Together with his assistant Alan Knill, Wilder will look for United to improve upon that record during the remaining 19 matches of the season.
Gillingham, who appointed Adrian Pennock as their new head coach following Justin Edinburgh’s departure earlier this month, also enter Saturday’s match at Bramall Lane hoping to bounce back from a defeat following a 1-0 loss at Oldham Athletic.
Pennock, reflecting on his first match in charge, said: “We can tell them to do things and if they don’t do it then we look elsewhere. Supporters have paid a lot of money to go up and watch the team and gone a long way, especially in the weather conditions we have had in Kent, and first half was very poor. I am not having that again.
“We have Sheffield United next and you need men in those situations. We have to move on and we will learn from it.”