Blades Tame Terriers
Tuesday 14th February
Back in September, Lee Clark`s team of giants came to Bramall Lane and inflicted United`s first home defeat in a style which had the home fans questioning if The Blades were going to be able to cope with the demands and tactics of the third tier.
How times have changed, at least for United. Huddersfield continue to play what can best be described as a 'direct style` whilst Danny Wilson`s philosophy of 'ball on the floor` continues to reassure the fans, and everybody else in the division, that his team can escape from this level by playing with an attractive, expansive style. In all probability both teams will be there in the mix at the end.
The sell out away end containing 4000 travelling fans were in good voice from the off, Wilson making one forced change out wide where Flynn came in for Williamson. They didn`t have long to wait to ratchet up the volume as Collins put United ahead after five minutes.
United showed their intention from the off, winning two corners quickly. Flynn floated the corner long and high to the back of the six yard box where Maguire met it, solidly heading to the opposite corner for centre back partner Neil Collins to place his downward header inside Smithies right post.
As expected, The Terriers came straight back at United, putting the ball into the box at every opportunity. United then had a couple of good chances as the game moved at a break-neck pace. In midfield Doyle and McDonald were getting hold of the game, with their opposite numbers trying to stifle McDonald`s impact on the game. At the back Collins and Maguire were winning the aerial battle with Rhodes and Lee, the latter up to his usual antics, as the bombardment continued from every angle.
Despite the ball arriving into United`s box from the back - Blades fans screaming 'hoof` every time - and from the long throws of Morrison, United maintained their determination to get the ball out of the air and play their passing game and looked dangerous going forward.
Simonsen brilliantly flipped a header over the bar then Cresswell headed over at the other end as the game moved from end to end. Then after 36 minutes United had a golden opportunity to kill the game. Evans shot was blocked, the ball falling to Cresswell whose shot was scrambled away by Smithies double save. Simo then kept out Lee`s effort, and then from another long throw Rhodes hit a post as Town came strongly at the end of the half.
The Blades began the second half well, Evans hit a powerful free kick wide before McDonalds shot was deflected inches from Steven Quinn in a scoring position.
Referee Ray Friend had been the centre of attention throughout the game, as usual, whistling every time a player went off his feet, though Lee`s falling over usually managed to deceive him. He waved away Morrison`s nudge on Cresswell in the box, then later in the half failed to see Evans shirt almost pulled off his back when through in the box.
Huddersfield`s aerial bombardment stepped up a level and approaching the last 20 minutes they created a number of half chances, the last being kicked off the line by Doyle from a Ward corner.
United were also creating chances, the best being after 73 minutes when they had three chances in the same move to finally kill the game. Collins had the first, then Cresswell shifted it to Maguire inside the six yard box, on his own. He managed to poke the ball wide when it was easier to score.
Cresswell went off exhausted and was replaced by Porter as United began to show the signs of fatigue in the last ten minutes. There was still time for Simonsen to save well from Morrison, then Evans powered to the edge of the box and blasted over with two men inside him. Four minutes of injury time passed with United`s rear guard mopping up everything coming out of the sky.
Man of the match was Neil Collins. Having put United ahead he then put in a commanding display alongside Harry Maguire - who would made the decision difficult if he had scored when he should have - closely followed by a confident Steve Simonsen.
I really like what Danny Wilson has brought to the club. Last Saturday we saw the patience required to break down a team who put 11 behind the ball. Last night we saw a team who refused to be bullied, were determined to play the Wilson way with a clear game plan and with ever growing confidence. I guess the United crowd are beginning to accept him, if the chant "he used to be s***e but now he`s all right" is anything to go by!