By Tony Leighton
Striker Shaun Miller hit two cracking goals to propel Sheffield United into the Area Quarter-Finals of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy and himself into contention for a regular place in Danny Wilson's npower League 1 team.
The close-season signing from Crewe Alexandra has had few first-team opportunities since arriving at Bramall Lane, but he showed his qualities in a 4-1 Trophy win at Notts County that earned the Blades a tie against Coventry City in the next round.
Central defender Harry Maguire hit United's other two goals, one a back post tap-in, the other an intended cross and both in sharp contrast to the crisp, first-time finishes that Miller produced in what was only his second start for the club.
"I've not had too many minutes on the pitch so far," noted the 25-year-old striker, whose four League appearances have all been as substitute, "so it was great to get the nod to play in this Trophy game and I feel that I took my opportunity."
Miller's goals were his first for the Blades and he added: "I was delighted with the goals and chuffed to get myself off the mark for the season. With every chance I get now, all I can do is try to show the manager that I'm worthy of a regular spot."
The young striker keeps any frustration he may be feeling under wraps as he settles into life at United, only his second club after being at Crewe since his first involvement with the Gresty Road outfit as a seven-year-old schoolboy.
"It's not been difficult," insisted Miller about the transition. "Towards the back end of last season I was on the bench with Crewe and not having a great time, so I'll thrive here on the chance to capitalise on the opportunities I get."
Further opportunities will doubtless fall Miller's way as the Blades look to progress in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy and in League 1, where their unbeaten start to the season sees them occupying third place in the table.
Manager Wilson was certainly impressed by his £60,000 summer signing, particularly his two goals. "That's why we brought Shaun to the club," said Wilson. "He's stepping up and he's done himself a power of good with that performance."
The Blades boss was equally pleased with his team's all-round display against a Notts County team that are also flying high in League 1, and Wilson is now urging his team to push on in the Trophy as well as in their pursuit of promotion.
He said: "You saw out there how important the Trophy is to us - we ran our socks off because we wanted to get through the tie. Now we've got Coventry and that will be a very tough game, but we'll be ready."
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