Hendo Relishes Hat Trick
Saturday 28th November.
Just when the travelling Blades fans were holding their heads in their hands and complaining that we always give it away, up pops Hendo to send us home happy, almost 7 minutes into added time!
United had weathered the unrelenting long ball bombardment throughout the second half, but having left too much room in midfield once too often during the last ten minutes it was always going to come down to a percentage game, and sure enough Saborio pounced on another snow covered ball to stab in what we all thought was a point saver for City. Then along came Hendo.
The travelling Blades fans were surprised to see Carl Ikeme replacing penalty saver Mark Bunn in goal, but the rest of the line up was as expected. The 4-5-1 formation that was so successful last season, but often criticised by the fans, looking so much stronger with the return of Nick Montgomery and addition of Lee Williamson. Monty took up his usual holding position in front of the back four, with Williamson pushing up behind loan striker Henderson, Harper in the centre and Jamie Ward adding pace down the right, and Quinn out wide left.
After one of the loudest renderings of the Blades anthem, City started brightly, but it was Jamie Ward who had the first real chance on 21 minutes when Henderson headed down for Ward to shoot straight at the keeper when a foot either side would have opened the scoring.
Jamie Ward - taking corners from both sides - then hit a series of great corners flat and powerful which had City's defense scrambling before another Ward cross was taken down by HENDERSON and slotted into the right corner. Referee Andy Hall appeared to award the goal before discussing with his assistant, then confirming his decision.
Three minutes later the Ward / Hendo trick worked again, Ward ceasing on a defensive error out on the right before sprinting forward and finding HENDERSON with a perfect pass for him to bury it into the top of the net.
Blades fans in the away end were by now having a great deal of very enjoyable 'banter' with the City fans in the other half of the stand.
City immediately went to the long ball,worked Ikeme a couple of times and kept up the pressure until the break, with right winger Evander Sno particularly involved. United's keeper almost presented City with a way into the game when he spilled a low cross, but at the break Blades held the upper hand.
With the Blades fans calling for a quiet ten minutes at the start of the second half, Johnson was through but Ikeme was quick to come out to block the striker. Then the Blades should have put the game well beyond any chance of a City come back. Henderson drifting wide left beat his defender and put in a low cross on the six yard box which pushed the sprinting Ward just too wide to get a firstime shot in.
In a clean flowing game,despite a heavy pitch and not one bad tackle, referee Hall then managed to show a flurry of cards to both teams for what appeared minor incidents.
United then gave away a free kick to the right, which was swung in for Carey to head past Ikeme. For those who were at Reading earlier in the season, it was a carbon copy of Matt Mills goal in that game.
Maynard and Haynes tested the Blades defense, where Davies and Morgan were more than holding their own under the raking long balls, but Ikeme delt with their efforts comfortably.
Down at the other end Ward was taking a corner when a missile was thrown at him, picking it up and giving it to the referee, he was booked for time wasting!
Moving into the last ten minutes, United's midfield and defense were continually defending too deep, allowing City to pump more and more balls into the box. Clearances were coming straight back. No one was surprised when the board went up with 5 minutes of added time, and City's arial bombardment took on a whole new meaning.
After the 5th minute equaliser, with Blades fans moving to the exit disgusted with two points given away, Quinn got the ball out to Reid whos shot was smothered by a defender only for HENDERSON, in the thick of things as usual, to rob him of the ball and fire a low shot across Gerken and into his far corner...right in front of the Blades fans.