Thank Evans! Blades Go Top.
Saturday 10th September
Ched Evans rescued a point for The Blades to protect their unbeaten start to the season and at last ensure that United left Glanford Park with something more than the usual beating. As a bonus, that lot in S6 turned over MK Dons, sending United to the top of the table.
In an incident packed game, United once again failed to overcome opponents reduced to ten men after Barchams disgusting over the top tackle on Doyle rightfully earned him a straight red after 25 minutes. Until that point the game had been scrappy in the stiff breeze, Scunthorpe had made the better start, hitting the bar and blazing the rebound into row Z after just 7 minutes.
United`s flowing pass and move from the previous game was stuttering. In midfield McAllister and Doyle were not getting to grips, leaving the front two to feed on scraps and set piece kicks, many of which failed to beat the first man. The home side worked hard and closed United down with determination and some zealous challenges.
As the home side adjusted to being a man down, Norwood forced Simonsen to tip over his bar, then in injury time Cresswell gave the ball away which found its way to DAGNALL who despite being the only opposition player in United`s half took it forward as Collins, Doyle and Maguire stood off while the striker fired past Simonsen from the edge of the box! Danny Wilson later described the defending as "garbage" - Unbelievable was probably a better word.
The Blades began the second half with much greater urgency and at a higher tempo; Johnstone palmed away a fierce cross then Mendez-Laing hit the keepers left post with a shot from an angle following good work from Quinn who then provided a cross which Maguire hammered over the bar. Tonne then rushed a shot from inside the area that he should have done better with as Scunthorpe were forced to defend deep.
The second half was turning into one way traffic as the home side fell back and relied on the long ball out to relieve the pressure. Quinn was noticeably having much greater impact in the game and was instrumental in most creative moves. After 65 minutes Porter was replaced By Ched Evans to a loud welcome from the Blades fans.
Quinn was again the provider as his ball across the 6 yard box beat the defenders but Cresswell somehow managed a miss of 'Rob Earnshaw` proportions. Fortunately his horrific miss didn`t stay in the fans memory very long as immediately afterwards EVANS leveled with a stunning acrobatic volley into the roof of the net. Lowton put a good ball into the box which Cresswell went for, the ball bouncing up for Evans to finish.
The visitors pounded away at Scunthorpe`s 10 man defense, Quinn`s free kick was headed onto the bar by Doyle, and then Williamson tested Johnstone, and in the last minute Quinn`s cross was tipped on to the bar by the keeper, with Evans and Doyle unable to get the final touch as the ball fell onto the goal line.
It took a while to come but Quinn`s second half influence demonstrated how far above this level he is.
The pattern of the third tier continues, long ball and hard working teams closing down quickly together with some robust challenges, though Scunthorpe were justified in this approach having gone down to 10 men so early in the game. Once again United had 4 players booked as they were forced into mixing it up. The passing game was seen mainly in the second half as The Blades eventually gained the initiative and used the ball on the floor to better effect.
The pleasing aspect of Danny Wilson's influence is that there is clear evidence that he is putting together a strong team ethic, combining resilience with the ability to adapt to the style of play needed to get a return from games.
It`s very early days yet, and certainly this game was the worst we have seen from United so far this season, but the team spirit and battling qualities from some players who most of us would have been happy to wave goodbye to at the end of last season is very encouraging.
A healthy return from the next two home games could really lay down a marker for the rest of this very long season.