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Ward's Late Show Seals Points

Sheffield United
1 - 0
Preston North End

Bramall Lane

28th December

Attendance: 25,231


Jamie Ward`s late free-kick was enough to claim the victory for the Sheffield United, and put them within two points of the play-off places.

The Blades persistence eventually paid off after having the majority of the play in the Championship encounter. However, when it looked like both sides would have to settle for a point in what had been a scrappy tie Ward`s set-piece bypassed everyone and bounced just inside the far post.

Kevin Blackwell was forced into one change with Derek Geary replacing the injured Kyle Walker. Ched Evans and Henri Camara were also recalled to the side in place of Andy Taylor and James Harper, who wasn`t even named on the bench. Michael Tonge started the game in central midfield for North End.

Attacking the Bramall Lane end the Blades piled on the early pressure, Camara, Cresswell and Ward all having shots blocked. Jon Parkin`s effort from distance was a bigger threat to the ball boy in the corner than to Mark Bunn`s goal in his final appearance for the Blades before his loan spell expires.

The highlight of the game came shortly after, when Trevor Kettle concluded his incompetent performance with what can only be described as a cop-out, holding his hamstring and being replaced by the fourth official. The next chance fell to Evans who volleyed straight at Lonergan after good work on the right by Geary. The last real chance to fell to Camara who broke through the defence but lifted the ball over the bar as Lonergan came rushing out.

The chances dried up in the second half, as the game became a battle in midfield, Bunn stopped Tonge`s effort, and when Evans headed the ball across goal Cresswell was just beaten to his header by the impressive Sean St Ledger.

Stuart Elliot looped a header narrowly wide from Callum Davidson`s cross when Bunn was stranded before the goal finally came. Former Rotherham United winger Chris Sedgewick brought down Stewart on the left and Ward`s in swinging delivery was missed by everybody including the goalkeeper and sent the Blades fans into raptures, and gave the Blades all three points in the final game of 2009.

Star Player

Derek Geary: It was hard to pick a man of the match for yesterday's game, with nobody really standing out. Henri Camara looked lively throughout without ever really being able to create. However, Geary, on his first start of the season looked like he'd never been away.

Date:Tuesday December 29 2009
Time: 11:48AM

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i guess harper must have been injured yesterday but we missd him a lot, hes very good at picking up and moving little passes and keeping possession - ive a hell of a lot of time for monty and in certain games hes the first name on the team sheet but yesterday (and as weve seen against some poor teams) his inability to keep the ball is horrible - its things such as that which make games like PNE as scrappy as it became...yes he offers good protection but PNE were not interested in coming forward, and for me we need to have harper williamson combination when all fit with ward and quinn / little on the flanks so that we can keep hold of the ball....camara was disappointing yesterday, but i guess KB has to play ward on the wing - id love to see him up front bu seen as we got rid of cotts wardy is on the flank for the time being
29/12/2009 13:05:00
Agree, Gleadless. I know Harper hasn't exactly endeared himself to many Blades fans, but he is gradually having more and more impact on games. It does take a while for players to adjust to a different club and style of play, and in Harpers case to get up to match fitness. Harpers infulence has been more noticable in away games, especially at Plymouth where he won the points, and at Leicester where anything good in the second half came from him. The player that we all feared when he was at Reading has not become a bad player overnight, our problem as Blades fans is that our expectations are very high - unrealistically sometimes - and we expect every player to be perfect from minute one. I believe he will be pivitol to any success in the second half of the season.
29/12/2009 16:22:00
Have to disagree with your comment about Harper being more noticeable at Plymouth glouc. Yes he scored the winning goal but before that he was the most ineffective player on the pitch and was almost invisible!! He's only had a couple of decent 20 min spells in the whole time he's been here. Williamson's played less than half the games that Harper has and he's impressed me twice as much!
30/12/2009 00:29:00
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