Ram-Shackled Blades Pinch Late Point
Sat. 6th February 2010
The now familar guessing game for Blades fans in the pubs before the game was not just what the starting eleven would be, but how many new players would start and what positions they would play in! Even after a few pints no one would have guessed at Monty starting at right back. Toni Kallio brought in to play in the troublesome left back position found himself alongside another home debutant, Nyron Nosworthy in central defense and most worringly Jordan Stewart remained at Left back in another new back four line up.
The early minutes were shudderingly similar to the closing stages of the debacle at Watford four days before and when Monty's awful attempt at a headed clearance found SAVAGE in acres of space, even Robby couldn't pass up the chance. That was the worst possible start for a team with so many changes trying to get to grips with unfamiliar colleagues, positions, and worst of all, a home crowd looking for every mistake to jeer.
Bunn got a knock very early on and had to go off later, but it would not be a United game if we didn't get at least one injury. United's midfield was struggling once again to make any impact. Steven Quinn's confidence is low and until the last 10 minutes of the game he had little useful involvement. His partner, Williamson, had even less impact in the first half, other than a silly challenge on the edge of the box after half an hour, one of a series of fouls that eventually resulted in a booking. He looked short of pace and is clearly still feeling the injury.
County were happily passing the ball around and mixing it up with a bit of route one as well to test the new partnerships at the back. United responded by hacking most away, very few clearances actually finding a red and white shirt. Out wide Cresswell was chasing everything as usual and on the other side Yates was having little success.
Blades old boys', Tonge - welcomed back for the second time this season - and Rob Hulse were well involved, Tonge testing Bunn and putting in a great cross. Hulse's most notable contribution being his constant moaning to referee Salisbury, which even continued after the half time whistle. Imagine how upset he would have been if Morgan had been playing! The half ended with the now traditional round of booing. Welcome to Beautiful Downtown Bramall Lane, new players.
County were comfortable with their lead, United were not creating any threat up front where Henderson and Evans were having to drop back in an effort to see any of the ball. Kallio hung on to Commons a bit too hard and was booked, Yates wasted a free kick over the bar and Stewart was still struggling with distribution and basic defending. There was still no sign of Quinn getting into the game.
Increasingly during the second half the (slightly) encouraging signs were that very gradually certain players were beginning to settle, whilst others were showing a bit more confidence despite the constant baying from the terraces. A consistant factor throughout the game was Nyron Nosworthy who picked up where he left off at Watford and despite a couple of early errors, settled quickest of the back four. Kallio improved and will be better suited at left back in future games.
The Blades eventually worked up a head of steam with ten minutes to go. Camara had replaced Evens - will he ever play 90 minutes? - and had a great chance which hit a defender. Quinn put in a great cross, Cresswell was wide with a header and the much maligned Stewart's shot was palmed out by Bywater then in stoppage time Yates at last wriggled his way into the box, set up WILLIAMSON, who buried a low shot under the keeper to grab a point that United's second half determination just about deserved.