Blades Through To Third Round
It was a day of high emotions at Bramall Lane on Saturday as Sheffield United edged past League Two opponents Torquay United on Saturday. After being behind early in the first half due to a Rene Howe strike, the Blades showed their superiority in the Second half and a Torquay own goal and Ched Evans brace sent United into the third round.
anny Wilson`s strong starting line up displayed how seriously United would be taking the competition this year. Richard Cresswell came in for Chris Porter as the only change from last weekend`s one nil victory over Chesterfield.
ust over ten thousand fans were packed into the South Stand and the Family stand to pay tribute to Blades player and manager Gary Speed who sadly took his own life last weekend and Bethany Adcock the female under 15 SUFC player who tragically died after inhaling fumes from an aerosol can. After a minutes respect there was a solemn mood around the Lane broken by some sections chanting 'One Gary Speed, One Gary Speed`.
ith many of Speed`s former team mates and players in the starting line-up there was bound to be some effect on how the United players would begin and this was apparent from an early stage. This slow start was epitomised when from a free kick from the right Torquay took a surprise lead with just three minutes gone. The ball was swung in from the right and after Williamson failed to cut out the danger it was deflected and found its way to the unmarked HOWE. With the goal five yards away and not one defender near him the broad set striker HOWE made no mistake and gave Simonsen no chance to give Torquay the lead.
nited were left shocked by the goal and there sloppy play and rather pedestrian pace began to agitate the fans who became increasingly restless. Michael Doyle and Stephen Quinn became particular targets of the fans frustrations. Nevertheless, for all of their lack of penetration United still maintained the majority of possession and created the best chances of the first half an hour. Firstly, Maguire should have done better from an inviting Williamson corner that from 4 yards out he managed to put wide. This was then followed by an Evans free kick that brought the best out of Torquay keeper Olejnik, who managed to get finger tips to an effort that was heading to the top corner.
t was from set pieces that United looked there most dangerous but Torquay were always threatening on the break and this was underlined with two glorious Torquay oppurtunities. The lack of pace in the Blades defence was exposed when Stevens was put through on goal. However, his unconfident effort was scuffed and rolled harmlessly wide. This was followed by an even better chance for Torquay to stretch their lead. The increasingly involved Howe managed to take the ball around Simonsen but his cross to the on rushing Bodin was scuffed and found its way into the arms of Simmo.
nited mustered one more chance before the end of the half. With another goal-bound Evans free kick bringing a decent out of the Gulls keeper. However, this was about all the Blades could create in an uninspiring first half performance. They were quite rightly booed off the pitch as they found themselves going down the tunnel behind to far inferior opposition.
here was a greater urgency to United`s game after the half time break and a more direct approach was employed, which aimed to get the strikers involved more quickly. This allowed the confident Evans to have more of a role. Five minutes after the break he was involved in a potential penalty incident that would have been soft but under the letter of the law could have seen the referee point to the spot. This was followed by a volleyed effort from the Wales international hitting the woodwork. After Doyle`s left footed effort was tamely pushed away, Evans sent from a tight angle a venomous effort that fired off the inside of the post.
nited were definitely in the ascendancy and the removal of the ineffective Williams and McAllister for Jean Francois and McDonald looked to build on this pressure. McDonald was quickly involved. After Maguire expertly intervened when Howe looked through on goal, McDonald`s ball to the right found Williamson who laid the ball off to Lowton. After finding himself in a cul de sac Lowton sent a hopeful ball into the box with his left foot that was unluckily sliced into the back of the net by Torquay defender ELLIS. It was harsh on the Gulls who had defended so resolutely throughout the game.
till obviously shocked by the nature of the goal they had just conceded from the kick-off, Torquay seemed to just switch off. After losing the ball straight from kick-off a hopeful ball was sent forward by the Blades defence of which Evans latched onto. After taking the ball down Evans ran at the backtracking Torquay defence and as he approached the box shifted the ball onto his right foot and buried it past the helpless Olejnik. In celebration Evans rushed over to the cameras to reveal an undershirt with the words 'Rest in Peace Speedo` on it. The goal was very much like the one he scored at Chesterfield last week and highlights just how much confidence he is playing with at the moment.
s a result of going behind Torquay seemed to wilt and this led to United creating more and more chances. Firstly Evans hungry for another goal saw a half volley heading for the bottom corner tipped wide by Olejnik. Soon after the hero soon turned villain as his weak clearance found Evans who calmly slotted the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper. The goal was about as easy as they come for any striker, but the circumstances were unfortunate for the goalkeeper who had acquitted himself so well throughout.
here was still enough time for the Blades to create another chance and the Gulls to gain a consolation goal. Cresswell`s effort was blocked when he should have passed to Evans hungry for a hat-trick. Then deep into injury time Howe was on hand to link up once again with Stevens whose shot flew past Simonsen. This was the last action of the game and the referee blew his whistle from the subsequent centre. The Blades were through to the Third Round where Grimsby or Salisbury await.
he game was very much a game of two halves. First half AWFUL, Second half much better. The first half was wrought with mistakes and the Blades lacked penetration. The midfield was terrible. Doyle and McCallister rarely showing for the ball and when they did receive it there passes were usually misplaced or directed backwards. For all of Quinn`s energy, like Chesterfield last week the quality was not there and the reaction of the fans was akin to two years ago. Williamson continues to frustrate on the right wing. I am amazed he hasn`t been given a go in the middle of the park yet. All of his best performances for the Blades have come in that position and his type of central midfielder seems exactly what we are missing. The two centre backs were solid as usual and unlucky not to have a clean sheet. However, the usually steady Williamson had another poor game and very rarely got forward to support the attacks. Up front Cresswell continues to work hard but produce very little. Whereas, Evans is the man of the moment and we will do very well to hold onto him in January.
hed Evans- Could have had about five today. He is oozing confidence at the moment and every shot he has seems to go in or require a stunning save by the keeper. It is a shame he is only showing this form now. If he played anywhere near this level last season we would have stayed up. If we want to surmount a promotion charge it is imperative he stays.
Stinker of the Day
ichael Doyle- There were many poor performances today Stephen Quinn, Marcus Williams and McAllister to name a few. However, Michael Doyle has to gain my award for stinker of the match award. I fail to see how this guy is a professional footballer. All he does is pass backwards or hack the ball up the field and he rarely wins any second balls or tackles either. The midfield was completely overrun at times in the first half against a team that are a whole division below. When McDonald came on this changed the quality of play through the midfield. However, he is far too unfit to last even 45 never mind 90.