Date:Sunday December 26 2010
Sergei Prokofiev`s Dance of the Knights rang out around Bramall Lane before the kick-off today; a tune synonymous with The Apprentice and United fans across the City will be hoping to hear that somebody has been hired sooner rather than later.
However, despite the result it was a very different story, with the Blades having the lion`s share of the chances but vital errors at both ends cost them dear.
Sheffield United were 2-0 at the break, and many fans will have already considered heading for the exit gates. However, in reality the game had struggled to get going thanks to two serious injuries and a whistle-happy referee. The visitors didn`t take their time to get going, and were in front after just two minutes, when Manchester United loanee Cameron Stewart outpaced Nyron Nosworthy before rolling across for Jay Simpson to tap in from close range.
This was the first of two mistakes by Nosworthy in what would prove a fruitless first-half for the Sunderland man. The second came at the end of the half when he was this time outpaced by Simpson himself, who got away from Nosworthy before being felled on the edge of/inside the area depending who you listen to. The man that mattered believed it was inside and pointed to the spot allowing the Arsenal man to brush himself off and fire the Tigers into a 2-0 lead. The United defender received just a yellow card to the disappointment of all 22,000 in attendance.
Nick Montgomery volleyed just over shortly after the first goal after some impressive build up play on the left hand side. Unfortunately, Andy Taylor received a nasty injury in this process and was withdrawn on a stretcher to be replaced by the youngster, Matt Lowton.
Kevin Kilbane was the next to cause a lengthy stoppage when Ched Evans had caught him in the head, before the game`s first outbreak. Andy Reid and Anthony Gerrard had a coming together which saw both men booked.
Stephen Quinn soon went from pantomime villain to village idiot, as he reacted to losing the ball by blasting it at the advertising boards, only to slip on the frost and have to be withdrawn with an injured hip. Jamie Ward was his replacement and despite struggling to get into the game early on, had a larger impact on the second half playing as a striker in a 4-4-2 formation.
In the second half, United looked the more likely to get the next goal; Mark Yeates curled over from the edge of the area after Kyle Bartley had headed at Vito Mannone. However, the persistence paid off when Andy Reid curled a beautiful ball into the area for Ched Evans to rise and power an unstoppable header into the bottom corner.
The youngsters of City were becoming increasingly frustrated, epitomised by Stewart picking up a booking for a very late challenge on Steve Simonsen. The second free-for-all was soon in full force when a crunching tackle by Ian Ashbee was not met with a good reaction from Montgomery who bundled him to the ground. What followed was a melee involving almost every player on the pitch, with more than one punch thrown. However, the referee opted to hand out just two yellow cards; Ashbee and Bartley the recipients.
With around 15 minutes left to play, Bartley`s diagonal ball was misjudged by Kamil Zayatte, and Evans pounced, poking away from Mannone and cutting the ball in from a tight angle sending the home supporters into raptures.
United continued to press with Evans almost finding room for a third, only for Reid to go alone and force a save from Mannone. However, the afternoon soon turned sour as City broke from a United corner, with Stewart again proving the catalyst, sprinting the length of the pitch, forcing a save from Simonsen, which was parried into the path of substitute Jimmy Bullard to poke home and leave United with a morale crushing defeat.
Date:Sunday December 26 2010
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