Blackwell 1 Warnock 1 Fans 0
Dark clouds loomed over Bramall Lane as the referee brought today`s game to a close, on what was a grey day for all involved.
Two inconsistent defences, and the return to Bramall Lane of Neil Warnock meant that this fixture had all the ingredients to be a classic, but the 23,000+ inside the ground will have left disappointed.
Richard Cresswell put the Blades in front with an excellent header, before an error from Marcel Seip allowed Jay Simpson to equalise early in the second period.
Kevin Blackwell was forced into changes once again, with Lee Williamson, Jamie Ward, Kyle Bartley and Ched Evans all missing out, replaced in the side by Mark Yeates, Henri Camara, Stephen Quinn and Marcel Seip.
It was the visitors who created the early chances, Adel Taarabt being at the centre of most of it. United`s first effort came on ten minutes when Yeates` pull back was fired over by Camara.
Hogan Ephraim and Jay Simpson both went close, with the post coming to the rescue on one occasion. With just a minute to go before half-time, Yeates crossed from the left, and despite facing away from goal, Cresswell converted a powerful header from twelve yards beyond former Blades loanee Carl Ikeme.
Early in the second period Yeates put swung in a free-kick which Camara and Cresswell both stretched for, but neither could make contact much to the relief of Ikeme.
On forty-nine minutes a long ball over the top was not dealt with by Seip and Simpson outmuscled the on-loan defender before rolling past the helpless Bunn.
United`s goalkeeper was on hand to keep them in the game soon after when the impressive Taarabt bent a free-kick over the wall, but Bunn was able to tip over with an acrobatic effort.
The final opportunity came to substitute Darius Henderson who failed to make contact with Cresswell`s centre with just a minute and a half remaining.
Blades: Bunn, Nosworthy, Morgan, Seip, Stewart, Yeates, Harper, Montgomery, Quinn, Cresswell, Camara.
Subs: Bennett, Taylor, Fortune, Lowton, Little, Henderson
First of all, I was angered after reading the team sheet. Six substitutes, one being a goalkeeper, three defenders, one 35 year old winger, and an unfit striker. Hardly a game changing bench. With a wealth of pacy forwards in the academy, who have had experience in the reserve team throughout the season, why not give one of them a place? Fair enough, these 17 year olds might not be the finished product, but how many times do you see raw pace come off a bench at all levels and grab a goal from nowhere through sheer surprise?
Not at Bramall Lane. If defeat had resulted from today`s game, Blackwell`s first excuse would be "I didn`t even have enough people to fill the bench". Getting your excuses in before the game is pretty much as under the cosh as you can get.
Secondly, despite possessing quite an impressive leap, what on earth does Jordan Stewart bring to our team. It makes you think, if you were in prime athletic condition, you could play in the second tier of English football.
Going through the team, I thought Bunn did alright, as he has on and off this season, but a more consistent goalkeeper is going to be required if anything is to be achieved. Across the backline, words cannot describe Nyron Nosworthy, from the sublime to the ridiculous pretty much explains our full-back. Chris Morgan has excelled himself and come to the rescue too often this season, Marcel Seip had a shocker, but before condemning him immediately, he did look impressive when he was first drafted in. Jordan Stewart...it`s best I stop there before it gets libellous.
In midfield, Yeates was our only creative outlet today, and whilst he may frustrate some at times, he`s integral to the side if we want to score goals. Nick Montgomery put in a typical "Monty" performance. James Harper is the safest player in the football league, with no pass going beyond 3 yards. This is all well and good, but doesn`t work alongside Nick Montgomery. As for Stephen Quinn, whilst far from perfect, was better than most.
Finally, up front. Richard Cresswell continues to get goals for the side and run himself into the ground, and today his partner Camara was fairly ineffective, and based on the number of offsides today, has been watching Darius Vassell`s greatest hits & misses.
On the bench, Kevin Blackwell left it late to change things, and his decision to put Henderson on for Harper was a good one, and one I agreed with. Glen Little`s introduction sparked something in the ground, and he clearly is capable of carrying this team, but what sort of situation are we in, relying on a 35 year old winger? Also, Yeates was not the right man to replace when you`re going for a winner.