Saturday, 7 December 2013

Vital Point

Leyton Orient 1
Sheffield United 1
Attendance 6,586
United Following 1,128

I think all Blades fans have to admit we were expecting a loss on this occasion, Leyton Orient have been top of the table for most of the season and have been the surprise package of the division. But the day ended with United taking a share of the points which could prove vital at this stage of the season. We, by no stretch
of the imagination went out to dominate and attack from start to finish, we didn't go out to play pretty football, we battled and put in a hard and determined shift, something I think we have lacked as of late.
Orient had the brighter start, Mooney getting into good space exposing Uniteds weakness at the back, luckily on this occasion Mooney shot wide of the mark. Mooney picked up the ball after the defence failed to get it clear but there were no Orient front men in the area to convert. The Blades dug in but were again caught out by the divisions high flyers, Shaun Batt showed incredible pace to run the ball from the halfway line into The Blades area, his cross met Mooney who looked odds on to give Orient the lead, however on this occasion George Long pulled a composed save out of the bag, getting low down to stop the ball rolling underneath him into the goal. Batt's pace continued to cause us problems but for all the opportunities Orient were not showing the killer instinct which got them to where they are at this stage of the season. Despite the problems unlike games gone by, United did not look down hearted, their heads were not on the floor and we continued to battle and try and grab the reigns. Uniteds first instance of taking the game to Orient ended with a weak cross from Tony McMahon causing no problems for Jones who caught the ball with ease. Now, many football purists will call the rest of the first half and the start of the second half boring, but what we saw as Blades fans was a vast difference from what we have come to expect, we held the ball, we played intelligently, we did not push on and press enough in my mind but to keep the ball and cut down
on possession loss was something that we had needed to work on. Despite Orient having a larger shots count we managed to keep the possession, having 59% of it by the games end, and in games like this this is vital. It prevented Orient totally overloading and crippling our defences, it boosted confidence amongst the players, something they so desperately need, frustrated our opponents and it all paid off seven minutes after the hour mark. The ball played forward to McGinn who was muscled off the ball which landed to Baxter who much like McGinn was forced to the floor, neither a foul simply a lack of strength, Porter collected the loose ball and instead of trying his luck showed the wherewithal to place a pass across the box to an unmarked Conor Coady who rolled the ball under Jones before showing in his celebrations how much his first senior goal meant to him. Coady celebrated like he had just scored in the FA Cup final, he showed the passion and love for football
that this team needs an injection of, something echoed by the one thousand plus following Blades fans who were now making a lot of noise. United from this point slowed the game down, really doing all they can to prevent Orient having opportunity to equalise, and for a long time this was successfully done.  Many thought United had come to London and shown enough to upset the odds, but when Orient lofted the ball forward to Cox the forward showed great ball control and unleashed a goal of the season contending volley, George Long having no chance as the ball looped over him into the goal, a cruel blow to The Blades but you just don't stop those. Orient nearly snapped all three points but Simpsons tame header was easily tipped wide by Long, a loss would have been undeserved, United worked incredibly hard for their point, but as the final whistle blew many knew if it wasn't for a wonder goal United may have come away with all three.
This game gave me a sense of hope that things can be turned around, and if we can show the same character we showed for this game until January we have every chance of putting a better run together.

"It was all going according to plan and another screamer has denied us all three points"

"We’re unbeaten in three matches now and, even though two of those have been draws, it means we are slowly making progress. Getting out of the bottom four should, psychologically speaking, do us the power of good. But it is still very early days yet and this is just another small step"

Jonathan Gascoigne

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