Another Draw that Feels Like A Defeat
Danny Wilson said that no two away games are the same, how right he was. After the excellent win at Deepdale, once again, United failed to close out a game and hold on to a lead for the final minutes, this time against a team down to ten men.
The first half was played at a good tempo, United retaining the 4-4-2 formation, Orient playing with Kevin Lisbe as a lone striker. Both sides created chances early in the half, Maguire put a half volley wide and then Simonsen was forced to tip over a header with the resulting corner being headed wide by Lisbe.
Both Porter and Phillips had chances before Phillips struck a free kick wide after 18 minutes. For the O`s, Daniels cross found Mooney who should have done better with his shot. Billy Clarke then had a golden chance to break the deadlock after 40 minutes when he met Quinn`s cross but headed it down too hard, the ball hitting the outside of the far post.
The first half was one of fits and starts, United putting together some good moves and neat approach play then seconds later being guilty of giving the ball away too easily, and lacking the ability to control mid-field. Up front, United`s strikers were caught off side far too often, and there were too many wasted set pieces, especially out swinging corners which swung out of play before reaching the penalty area.
The second half was more of the same, the home side creating the first chance, Lisbe using his pace against United`s central defenders but seeing his shot blocked. Forbes then saw his header go wide before down the other end Collins headed over from a good chance. Orient created a couple of good chances from a series of corners as United continued to lack any authority.
The best chance of the half was wasted as Quinn`s free kick to the back post had Maguire and Porter getting in each others way when a simple nod in was all that was required.
Lee Williamson came on for Phillips and within just a couple of minutes he was being helped down the tunnel after a tackle by Daniels which earned him a straight red card. Montgomery was also booked for an earlier tackle leading up to the dismissal.
With 6 minutes remaining United grabbed the lead. Quinn crossed; Evans then McDonald had shots blocked before the ball fell to PORTER in the six yard box, sending waves of relief through the 1600 travelling Blades fans.
The home side predictably went all out for an equaliser, and in the 6th minute of 5 minutes of added time (!) Harry Maguire conceded a needless free kick which was lofted into United`s box where Simonsen miss punched directly to LISBE who found the corner of the net through a crowded area. Referee Langford finally blew the whistle after 7 minutes of added time.
Once again United have battled and done the hard work only to give away points by not doing the basics. We have enough players with the nous to be able to close out a game, or have we? 4 points now given away by goals in the final minutes in two of the last three games where United have led.
For me, we lack control and creation in the centre of mid field. Monty does what he does but he needs a bit of creation alongside him. Kevin McDonald is a big man who should use his weight and strength to better effect; often easily disposed he doesn`t seem to be able to put a foot on the ball when necessary.
Throughout today`s game, United failed to close down the opposition, allowed them far too much room and did not compete strongly enough for the second ball…but they should have got away with it. Schoolboy errors from corners and free kicks leave the fans wondering what happens all week at Shirecliffe. A few things have to change fairly quickly if United are to be competitive at the top of the table.