Blades Hard Fought Point
Saturday 19th December
United's recent unbeaten run continued at Loftus Road after an early scare. Many Blades fans were still arriving in the ground when ex Blade Leigertwood's long range shot, which was heading safely into Bunn's arms, was deflected off Chris Morgan's legs into the bottom of the net. The worst possible start and the first goal the United defense had conceded for four and a half hours of football. 'New Manager Syndrome' threatened, as the sparsely populated stadium encouraged their team.
Opening exchanges were end to end, and the Blades hit back on seven minutes when Kallio pushing forward squared from the by-line for Richard Cresswell to slot home at the near post.
Leigertwood was pushing forward for Rangers, most of their creative play was coming through him, and Simpson and Routledge out wide added the pace. For United, Quinn was working hard down the middle with Stewart operating wide left. Richard Cresswell was on his own up front with Jamie Ward wide right.
The first half action was end to end, both sides trying to get the ball wide. Jamie Ward's pace and direct running was causing the Rangers' defenders problems, after twenty minutes Cresswell failed to find Ward in the penalty area with just one defender in front of him, and at the other end Mark Bunn was off his line to take the ball cleanly from Routledge's feet when clean through. Steven Quinn, involved in most of what was happening in United's midfield, shot just wide on the half hour mark as United threatened. Shortly after, another darting run from Ward was abruptly ended by Damion Stewart who was booked. United's Stewart was through on goal but had to take his shot first time and mis-hit tamely to keeper Cerny. Before the end of the half, Kilgallon saw a header from a Ward corner fly over from a clear chance, and Morgan make a brilliant last ditch tackle on Simpson when one on one. Right on half time, Jamie Ward should have put United ahead but he put his shot wide when it was easier to score.
The second half started scrappy, United clearly nervous of giving away another 'new manager' goal. The Blades fans then began to get nervous as United conceded two free kicks on the edge of their area, both coming to nothing, then Simpson sliced a volley wide of Bunns left post.
Up front, Cresswell was working hard but often his first touch was letting him down. on 70 minutes Walker pulled a ball back from the by-line to Harper to side foot just over angle of post and bar. Quinn's passing and covering was taking the eye, and Harper was getting forward at every opportunity. Quinn had another half chance soon after from Kallio's cross but put his shot wide. At this stage the game could have gone either way. Kallio put a peach of a ball through inside the full back for Cresswell who couldn't capitalise.
A couple of well struck Watson corners caused United's defense real problems, one shout for a penalty was waved away then Bunn saved a Vine long range shot, and Leigertwood on the edge of the box couldn't connect as Rangers piled on the pressure in the last ten minutes, with too many balls being allowed into United's box.
With a couple of minutes of normal time remaining, Morgan gave away what looked like a soft free kick against Agyemang on the edge of the box in the centre, but the wall did its job and deflected the ball for a corner. As Rangers kept up the pressure, Watson headed Routledge's cross onto the top of the bar much to the relief of the Blades fans.
Bunn was then booked for time wasting. Ironic as this must be the only team in the league who use one ball and don't employ ball boys, players having to fetch the ball throughout the game must have wasted at least five minutes!