Quinn Clips Bluebirds Wings
Cadriff City Stadium
Wednesday 24th March
On a rainy, miserable night on a heavy pitch at Cardiff City`s new stadium, United kept their slim playoff hopes alive with another battling performance. The recent away format of a game of two halves continued, though at nowhere near the same level as at Doncaster last Saturday.
The game was always going to be difficult for defenders; the continuous rain dictated a 'kick the way you are facing` approach, which United`s back line adopted well.
City came at United with pace from the off, and created a number of openings in the first half hour which saw Simonson make a string of saves including a superb one handed save from a Peter Whittingham effort. United were working hard to keep City at bay who were moving the ball quickly and attacking down the flanks at every opportunity.
Referee McDermid made no allowance for the conditions, the greasy surface and continuous rain making it difficult for both sides. As early as the second minute he was gleefully waving a card at Connolly for a mistimed tackle which was clearly down to the conditions. He continued this approach throughout the game, penalising virtually any contact and waving yellow at the slightest provocation.
City`s players worked the referee far better than United, realising very quickly that hitting the deck was going to win the foul. Boothroyd spent most of the first half inviting contact and inventing new ways of falling, a tactic which eventually caught him out as he tried the trick in the penalty area and was booked for diving in the second half.
United continued the half giving far too much ball away which came straight back at them, even from their own throw-ins, United lost more than they won. Simonson had to stay focused as he was in action for most of the half, positioning accurately and catching well from set pieces.
Up front Cresswell was ploughing a lone furrow as his wide men struggled to get forward in support. In midfield Quinn was working hard and getting up field as often as he could, Harper and Monty were toiling away to break up the City attacks, where Whittingham was a constant threat and McCormack always dangerous.
Just when we thought we had weathered the first half storm, Bartley mistimed a clearance straight to Boothroyd who had time to measure a superb left foot strike into the top corner from fully 25 yards.
United started the second half at a higher tempo, Little working the right side and putting in a good cross, and then Harper put a 30 yarder over the top as United made their intensions to get something out of the game clear.
More ridiculous yellow cards followed, one for Quinn for blocking a quickly taken free kick which was in the wrong place, the ball still moving and the referee with his back to the ball!
Yates came on for Stewart after an hour and immediately crossed for Quinn to force Marshall into a scrambled save which Quinn then followed up to slide in at the near post. Wild celebrations from the small band of Blades fans, and 45 Cardiff stewards on red alert! Talk about over kill!
Little had an effort saved before giving way to Williamson then Cresswell was begging his midfield to get forward in support as United came more into the game.
Quinn was having his best game for some time, getting forward at every opportunity, tackling in midfield and getting back to help Andy Taylor who was struggling with the pace of Chris Burke.
United won a couple of corners in quick succession, Monty pressurising defenders and Harper having increasing influence in midfield , spreading the ball to the lively Yates.
McCormack was replaced by Chopra who instantly rattled United`s bar as defenders failed to close him down on the edge of the area. Matt Lowton came on for his first team debut with a few minutes left.
Four minutes of injury time passed with City unable to make anything out of a couple of free kicks.
As on Saturday, Blackwell has to be praised for an inspired substitution. Yates had an immediate impact and set up the goal.
The playoff chances are slim, but the really encouraging signs are that the legion of loan players are to a man putting in a shift, as two battling away performances proves.