I was speaking with a Sheffield United fan after Huddersfield Town’s intriguing goalless draw with Doncaster.

He’d been to watch their 1-0 defeat at Carlisle and was lamenting how the Blades and Town have gone their separate ways since that incredible play-off final at Wembley.

It’s only 16 months ago, yet times have changed massively for both organisations.

The Blades fan was happy with boss David Weir and delighted with the promise of foreign investment, but his argument was with the football which leaves the Blades just a point above the drop zone.

He also contended that the body language of the team, who now have four points from seven outings, was not what you want to see from a side he’s  expecting to mount a strong challenge at the other end of the table.

His final gripe was that there has been little to entertain anyone in United’s performances so far this season – and that’s certainly something which can’t be said of Mark Robins’ Town.

 

While the new style and switched formation are a work in progress, Town are not short of workers, ability or appetite.

Yes, they live on the defensive edge a little too often for anyone’s liking, but they also go forward with dash and refreshing menace at times and that suggests they can cut it with anyone at Championship level in the matches to come.

Doncaster are no mugs, even though they only just squeezed up from League One  last term.

They have experience and no shortage of organisation and Town let David Cotterill and James Coppinger cause them far more problems than were necessary.

Some of the Donny giants came to the party, too, with Chris Brown using his aerial ability to good effect and keeper Ross Turnbull making vital saves at key times from the ever-lively James Vaughan.

It was a shame Town fans were denied the chance to see a debut from Jazz Richards, simply because FIFA hadn’t pushed the right buttons to give him international clearance for his loan move from Swansea City (that’s not a good image for the game in general, although the governing body don’t like the inter-window loan system in the UK and are set to abolish it soon).

He would have added to the many talking points from a match dominated by thrust and counter-thrust from both sides and many thrills and spills, not to mention some of the baffling decisions made by referee Paul Tierney and his assistants, who had a woeful game.

If, as the manager contended, Oliver Norwood and Martin Paterson were feeling the effects of their international commitments with Northern Ireland, then someone who certainly didn’t look jaded was half-time substitute Jon Stead.

 

The one-time teenage goalscoring icon has returned to the club a more rounded and intelligent frontman, and he showed every ounce of that know-how in a compelling second-half showing.

Stead not only pepped up Town’s attacking play, but he enabled them to develop more possession and create more chances, and the only shame was that nobody could stick one in the back of the net.

Run of the ball

5 mins: David Cotterill’s drive is well held by Smithies.

9 mins: Smithies does brilliantly to make a one-handed stop and deny Chris Brown’s close-range header.

10 mins: Terrific flick across Doncaster’s six-yard box by Adam Clayton but no-one could take advantage.

15 mins: Richie Wellens fires over for Rovers from edge of  box.

23 mins: James Vaughan hooks the ball away from near Town’s own goalline as Theo Robinson’s shot takes a deflection.

24 mins: Clayton’s pass frees Vaughan but his curling shot on the angle is parried away by Ross Turnbull.

32 mins: Jonathan Hogg and Martin Paterson tee up chance for Vaughan, but he is denied in a scramble.

43 mins: Doncaster seem certain to score but a fantastic block by Joel Lynch denies Cotterill’s volley.

53 mins: Smithies is hurt after smothering bravely at the feet of the raiding Robinson.60 mins: Lively sub Jon Stead tees up the best chance of the match for Hogg, but he fires over from 10 yards when it was easier to score.

68 mins: With Town getting on top, Peter Clarke’s pass to Sean Scannell leads to a chance for Vaughan in the box,  but Turnbull again makes the block as he shoots at the end of a fine angled run.

81 mins: Stead, working hard, tries his luck with a curling chip, but the keeper gathers smartly.

87 mins: Town know it’s not going to be their day when Lynch’s close-range effort runs along the face of the bar to safety after good work by Stead and Clayton.