Battling Blades Take The Points
Sat 5th December
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.