Blades Lose Again!
Saturday 1st October 3pm
Attendance: 20, 073
Sheffield United suffered their third league defeat in four games as they slipped to a two nil defeat to league leaders Charlton yesterday afternoon. The defeat now sees them in sixth position in the league and more worryingly the loss yesterday has seen Sheffield Wednesday leap frog the Blades in the playoff positions. The result leaves the South London team 5 points clear at the top of the table and in possession of an unbeaten record in the league. Conversely, the loss yesterday for the Blades marks a continued drop in a division that looked so easy at the beginning of the season.
In an extremely evenly matched affair, United's mental fragility was displayed through them conceding two goals in a five minute period during the second half. This was coupled with comparative lack of cutting edge in the final third that led to the Blades once again firing blanks.
In a game that mirrored that of the Wycombe last week, the Blades started off the match with energy and a dominance that seemed to stun the league leaders. For the first ten minutes the game was played for the majority in the Addicks half and through the efforts of Quinn and Evans United`s passing football continually found the Blades in dangerous positions. This pressure culminated in United`s best chance of the half. From Williamson`s corner it was Collins that rose the highest and after a deflection off Porter his downward header was miraculously cleared off the line by a Charlton defender. This was followed by another half chance for the Blades, as Michael Doyle`s long cross to the back post was headed back across the six yard area to be fortuitously poked away a metre wide of the post by Solly the Charlton full back.
Similarly to the game at Adams` Park last weekend this pressure was not telling. As a result Charlton gained in confidence and began to look increasingly dangerous on the break. McDonald`s clear lack of fitness was apparent early on in the game as his inability to track his runners often left Doyle exposed in the centre of the park. As Charlton crept back into the game their threat up front began to become apparent. If it was not for two excellent pieces of defending by Neil Collins they could have easily gone into the second half a goal up. Firstly, after being beaten for pace by Wright-Phillips in the area the former Wolves man showed great recovery to catch up to and then take the ball off Wright-Phillips who had only Simonsen to beat. Then in what can be described as Charlton`s best chance of the half, a clever ball played over his shoulder by Hayes,left Morrison in the box bearing down on goal but Collins did well to put the Charlton player under pressure and the goal bound effort flew harmlessly into the Kop.
For all the possession and pressure the Blades had in the first half poor delivery in the final third again led to a lack of telling chances and more importantly a lead going into the second half.
The sweltering heat of the day seemed to be taking its toll on both teams and the second half began with less final third action and mistakes were rife. Williamson and McDonald were the main culprits for the Blades with a number of misplaced passes and clumsy touches riddling the Blades midfielders' games. As the second half ensued it became more apparent that whoever got the first goal would be likely to go on and win the tie.
This moment came in the 64th minute when with his first touch after being brought on KERMOGANT rose highest from a Charlton corner and glanced a header into Simonsen`s far corner. In truth the corner should have been averted in the first place as if Maguire could have been stronger against Wright-Phillips at the byline.
After this the Blades showed their mental fragility and inability in dealing with going behind. Just as they did against Wycombe last week, the goal led to a lot of miscommunication and mistakes in the United ranks and the crowd became increasingly restless. This confusion was summed up in the mistake that put WRIGHT-PHILLIPS through to score Charlton`s second. As the bouncing ball arrived at the previously faultless Collins` feet, he seemed to be thinking about the pass he was about to play and amazingly allowed the ball to pass over his left foot and with that Wright Phillips was released onto the Blades goal and at the second bite of the cherry put the ball into an empty net.
As a result Wilson made a double change bringing off the increasingly laboured Porter for Cresswell and ineffective Williamson for youngster Flynn. The swap made an almost immediate impact Flynn showed his direct wing play by taking on the full back and putting in a precise cross to Cresswell who found his goal bound header produce an impressive one handed save by Addicks goalie Hamer. With an increasing emphasis on attack the Blades left more open spaces at the back and two good saves by Simonsen ensured the score line was not higher.
United`s day was summed up in the final few minutes. With most of United`s faithful having already headed for the exits, Evans cut in twice on his right foot before sending in a near perfect curling effort that inextricably rebounded off the post. Once again the Blades had failed to score and as a result had lost ground on League One`s front runners.
n Conclusion, it is true to say we were unlucky but in many ways you make your own luck. Before the goal the defence looked solid and seems to be definitely the strongest backline. However, after the first goal was conceded they mentally wilted and the last twenty minutes was riddled with defensive mistakes. The midfield is where a lot of our problems stem from there is a lack of width and attacking threat centrally. On top of this, I do feel a new striker is needed that gives a different dimension to those we have at present. Porter seems to lack pace and his replacement Cresswell seems much of a muchness.
he stinker award has to go to Kevin McDonald as from about the tenth minute it was apparent that United had a passenger on board. I was surprised to read in the programme that he had been made man of the match for the last two games. He has obvious creative skills in terms of passing, but his lack of energy and inability to get stuck in means Doyle often has to govern the centre of the midfield alone. Not far behind would be Lee Williamson who continually shows that he is not a winger. To do well in this league we need width and Williamson does not provide the penetration needed down the right side.