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Battling Blades Take The Points

Plymouth Argyle 0
0 - 1
Sheffield United 1

Home Park

Sat 5th December

Attendance: 9231


It was the late, late show for the second week running as United, on the second of their South West away days, won the game with a great strike from James Harper two minutes from the end of normal time.

On a day when the weather started bad and got worse, the rule for defenders was 'kick the way you're facing' and when the rain began to hammer down fifteen minutes before kick off, those hardy 631 Blades fans knew it wasn't going to be a classic. The Home Park pitch was surprisingly firm, but any slightly mis-directed pass was always going to skid off the surface and make any kind of passing game a lottery.

Blades fans were disappointed to hear that Henderson was not fit, Cresswell replacing him up front in a 4-5-1. Kilgallon moved back into central defense with Toni Kallio coming in at left back. Naysmith and Geary were on the bench, great to see them both back to full fitness.

Both teams struggled to get to grips with the conditions, the first half was almost over before either side made any impact on the game. A Fallon header was comfortably gathered by Ikeme under his crossbar, a shot from distance by Mason and a Barnes effort from the edge of the box was Argyle's offering and United created even less as Cresswell struggled on his own up front. United were missing Henderson's power and ability to hold the ball, and it took forty minutes before The Blades created anything meaningful. Monty was working hard all over the field and it was his blocked shot that was United's only real chance of the half.

Referee Horwood was making little allowance for the awful conditions and although Argyle were certainly aggressive with their tackling, Mr Horwood managed to wave the yellow card four times during the game and blow up at the slightest hint of any contact. Perhaps a blessing that Hendo didnt play!

Plymouth started the quicker in the second half, Arnason's header was just over, then Ward was brought down twice in quick succession as United got the ball wide. From a corner the ball was cleared to Monty outside the box and his shot was on target until the last second before swinging onto the post with the keeper nowhere.

United's defense was looking solid, new loanee Kallio was having a good game on his debut and last seasons best central defensive pairing of Morgan & Kilgallon were coping with the conditions well with Monty sitting in front of the back four and doing what he does best, but the old failing of midfield giving too much ball away was happening again, Quinn was especially guilty.

Evans replaced Williamson after an hour as Blackwell looked to change things around. One goal was always going to win the game in the conditions. Ward was causing Argyle problems with his pace as he made defenders turn on the slippery surface.

Argyle's Alan Judge had a good effort just over as the game opened up and legs tired, and Fallon saw his header come to nothing, then Fletcher saw his shot hit the inside of a post and rebound out, at which point the Blades fans would have cheerfully taken the point and gone home. United were trying to get the ball wide for Ward, picking up the pace in the last ten minutes. Stewart replaced a very tired looking Cresswell with a few minutes left. Harper now pushing forward at every opportunity hit a twenty yarder that was parried by the keeper for a corner which Ward took and when the clearance fell to Harper again twenty five yards out he took a touch and hit a low shot into Larrieu's bottom right corner, right in front of the Blades fans. In added time Ward got to the by line and squared in front of an open goal only for no one in a red and white shirt to be up with play, allowing Plymouth to scramble clear.

Star Player

Nick Montgomery. In the conditions the team needed someone to 'dog it out' and Monty covered every blade of grass, the crowning moment would have been a richly deserved - and very rare - goal, had that post not got in the way. Toni Kallio had a solid game at left back, and Jamie Ward was always difficult to handle, especially in the second half.

Glouc's View

The team showed great determination and professionalism to get a win in very difficult conditions for the second week running. Cresswell struggled up front. Its only when you see the system played without Henderson that you realise how well he leads the line. United still give far too much possession away, oh for a Gary Speed in midfield, someone who can put a foot on the ball. I would like to see Glen Little given a bit more opportunity, we know he doesnt have the pace but he seldom gives the ball away and can pick a pass. Encouraging debut from Kallio and Ikeme looks solid. The whole team battled today, and once again Chris Morgan's infulence and leadership was there for all to see.

Date:Sunday December 6 2009
Time: 1:09AM

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good report glouc nice one......totally agree with that. i'll take this week in week out but..... we were shocking untill the 88th minute according to bbc radio sheff. never got going, 2nd to every ball, gave the ball away, hoofing it 90 yards at every oppertunity, silly mistakes and sill fouls given away, not the best team selection, negative tactics... could go on all night. strange ched was on the bench and blackwell started with creswell when he hasn't played for 6 weeks and still 60% fit. we seemed to step up a gear when ched came on and we scored. yet again very very lucky but as i said earlier i'll take this week in week out at the moment. what is very worrying is that we went for the draw today from the off which is very negative especially against a team struggling at the bottom of the league..why did we do that? we rode our luck all afternoon and invited them onto us constantly. don't get it at all. but a wins a wins... we have to improve massively at home to forest on tues night otherwise we will get rolled over big time. ok we have won our last 3 games but... the performances and tactics havn't been the best and we don't look like we are going to improve in trems of game play or tactics.
06/12/2009 03:27:00
sorry it is 03:28 sunday morning and i am on my night shift.
06/12/2009 03:29:00
The second week in a row that I've disrupted the Don Valley press box by jumping up in the 90th minute. However, sokunds like it was a torrid game in general. Everyone I've spoken to who listened to it on the radio says we were disappointing, but folk who went say we did well to grind out a result, so I can only think that the conditions were much worse than anybody expected. As for Cresswell up front rather than Evans, I don't see Evans as a target man, and I can't see him putting himself about a la Henderson, whereas from Cresswell, he'd perhaps be slightly more inclined to do the grafting. We'll be back to 4-4-2 on Tuesday at a guess, so I predict Ched will be back in for that.
06/12/2009 10:48:00
Thanks BFL, but let me re-assure you that, as at Ashton Gate, the win was nothing to do with luck. Pretty it was not, conditions dictated that, but both the wins were both down to a lot of hard work and an emerging team spirit that comes with key players getting back to fitness, and loan players settling into the team. Hopefully you will have seen Harpers goal on SSN by now, a goal fit to win any game. There are still a number of areas that have to improve hugely, but there was nothing wrong with the tactics yesterday, Blackwell changed things around in the team line up and made a substitution that won the game. Both the last two aways have been games that we have just edged, once after almost giving it away at the death, but the encouraging thing for us is the return to the fighting spirit, determination and a clearly emerging team togetherness that cant be seen on the radio. No one should under estimate the impact that Monty has made since his return. Forest will be a whole different ball game on Tuesday, bring em on!
06/12/2009 10:49:00
Sheps, I love Keith Edwards dearly, but believe me sitting in his warm commentary box (like you at the Don Valley!!) was NOTHING like playing down on that pitch yesterday. Keith must think that we older fans have forgotten how he used to hate playing in similar conditions and hide at every opportunity. One of these days we will get a trip to Devon in August and see what it's like to have a bit of warmth on our backs. The last four trips down there have either been in monsoon weather or just after it with soggy pitches and a howling gale. Cresswell didn't look fit yesterday, he certainly didn't enjoy it and looked relieved to come off. As you say, Evans is not a target man, he needs to play off the likes of Hendo.
06/12/2009 11:07:00
Yet again I was at work on Saturday and didnt even get chance to listen to the match! I cant comment on the performance but as far as im concerned its irrelevant at the moment, we got another 3 points and thats all that counts. 3 wins on the trot and 4 matches unbeaten will hopefully have given the lads a much needed boost in confidence, and IMO with a good level of confidence the performances will come. Forest will provide a tougher test on tuesday as will palace on saturday. I predict a score draw against forest and a win against palace. We are due to beat warnock.
100% BLADE
06/12/2009 22:03:00
agree 100% blade...there is a hell of a lot of improvement to do bt all i want is for us to get back into the shake of it so its all about the points at the moment. you must do better with the games as dissapointed as i am with the club at the moment i always find an oppertunity to listen to the commentary even if it's on my mobile phone with a wireless earpiece in when im in the middle of a meeting.
06/12/2009 22:41:00
January cannot come soon enough! We need new permanent fixtures in the squad ASAP. Apparently Davies and Bunn were hacked off at being left out on Saturday, but I feel for KB: he can't play all thr loan players, and he has to at least give the ones that have come in a game or two, otherwise no one will loan to us anymore. That means he has his hands tied: can't play a settled side, and can't keep everyone happy. Ecstatic with the result, the conditions looked atrocious; against a team fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table on a day like that, 1-0 will do very nicely. Incredible goal as well.
07/12/2009 13:57:00
Good summary Rich. With so many loanees and injuries Blackwell is always going to upset some one. His choice of line up on Saturday was spot on, also the changes he made later in the game. In the conditions, moving Klla back alongside Morgs and bringing in Kallio at left back and using his height at set pieces worked very well. I have seen some pretty atrocious conditions at Plymouth in the past, but Saturday was by far the worst.
07/12/2009 14:22:00
I had to laugh when i saw the team sheet when we had two right backs on the bench and three left backs!! a wins a win and on an occasion like that i think we'd all take it...would like to see evans back in as i thought he looked a hell of a lot better aagianst peterborough the other week - big game tomorrow - the back four the other day is a tall strong back four, now we need to build on this new found stability..injuries are as good as cleared up adn we've cover for those getting injured (hendo, keeper)
07/12/2009 14:56:00
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