Kamikaze Blades Pay the Penalty
Saturday 27th November
Two first half penalties, a sending off, a goal direct from a corner and a star struck referee ensured that there was never a dull moment for the travelling Blades at a wintery Ashton Gate.
We had just commented that United had started well, ball on the floor and enjoying a good share of possession when with City`s first attack of any significance, Britton challenged for the ball inside the box and referee Miller was pointing to the spot before the City player hit the turf. The incident was at the far end of the ground away from the Blades fans so it was difficult to comment on the decision.
City posed little threat in the opening twenty minutes, but were looking to get their pacey wide men on the ball at every opportunity. United won a couple of corners, one of which gave Lowton a shot at goal which James got gown to well. Reid`s shot and Cresswell`s effort kept Calamity honest while Simonsen at the other end made an excellent save from Adomah then misjudged a cross and palmed weakly towards the wing, City unable to capitalize.
Just after the half hour, Fontaine`s shot hit Jordan / Cresswell and once again Mr. Miller was pointing to the spot with lightening speed. Again, before seeing the TV pictures of the incident, I can`t pass an opinion. Pitman put this one down the middle and the task for United was suddenly a mountainous one.
Simonsen saved well from Clarkson, then the game was effectively out of United`s reach just before the end of the half when in a staggeringly stupid 'challenge` for a ball in midfield, Cresswell lunged with both feet off the ground, studs showing at the ball and /or Elliott. Referee Millers afternoon of decisive decision making continued as the red card was under Cresswell`s nose before he got up. Game over.
Ridiculous as it sounds, United had not played at all badly in the half. The passing game was working pretty well, Reid, Britton and Evans (yes, Evans) were working well, Monty was breaking things up and Bartley and Nosworthy were relatively comfortable. The lack of pace out wide was obvious but United seldom went to the long game, however the game was effectively beyond them by half time.
The second half was then very predictable and painful for the Blades contingent. City kept the ball; defended easily against the ten men and using their pace out wide were always a threat.
Simonsen pushed out a shot for a corner, then came for and completely missed the in swinging corner which curled in at the back post untouched. The keeper was not obstructed, he came for the ball totally misjudged its flight as it floated over his head and into the net. He had escaped unpunished for a similar error in the first half, but not this time.
The third goal signaled an exodus by some of the Blades fans, though they had remained vocal throughout the game, once again deserving better for their support and dedication.
This leaves Speed with real problems for the visit of Reading next week and at Barnsley the week after. Two senseless challenges by Boggy & Cresswell have ruled them out for two and three more weeks, Ward is injured and Hendo still not fit. What`s left? Evans and young Slew, with nothing on the bench. The only positive thing about this is that it provides Ched with the opportunity to prove to the fans that he can take on responsibility.
Difficult times ahead I think.