Sunday, 19 January 2014

A Game of Three Quarters

Sheffield United 2
Bradford City 2
Bramall Lane
Attendance 18,794

Despite at half time looking like we could run away with this game and give Bradford a thumping some crazy tactical decisions, a fluke and some shoddy goalkeeping meant we had to share the spoils in this Yorkshire Derby. Paynter made his debut in the place of Porter, a step in the right direction according to many Blades fans.Another change was the recall of Jamie Murphy to the line up whilst Coady was placed on the bench alongside Porter. Straight after kick off it became apparent that we were going to cause Bradford problems
on the wings. Flynn especially gave the Bradford full backs a torrid time. Both teams had early chances from set pieces but it was Bradford who came closest, Hansen got to the end of Jones ball but it fell to the a grateful George Long. United used their domination on the wings to take the lead as Flynn took the ball out wide, some sublime passing got the ball to McMahon who found enough space to drill in a low cross to the back post where Murphy beat his marker for pace and slide and bundle the ball home. Bradford weren't going to lay down and die in this full hearted derby game and took the game to United, and in a frantic ten minutes they threw everything at The Blades back four, Maguire had to deflect an effort wide, they went close from the resulting corner but McLean's header just about drifted over the bar. Bradford got another corner shortly after and Hanson's powerful header rattled the crossbar, the ball fell to McHugh who hit a strong volley towards goal but it was cleared off the line by Jose Baxter, the Bradford players went berzerk claiming they should have had a penalty claiming Baxter hand balled it on the line, no penalty given but I have to admit if I was a Bradford fan I would have felt a little aggrieved. Paynter put himself about
plenty in what was an action packed opening, if it hadn't been for some very tight marking and blocking from Bradford's defenders one would think Paynter would have had his first goal. An unfortunate injury to Bradford's Reid meant he had to be stretchered off the field of play, he received a round of applause from both set's of fans as no one likes to see a player seriously injured. Five minutes before the end of regulation time of the first half The Blades netted their second, after yet more domination from Murphy and Flynn on the wings United got themselves a corner, we had looked dangerous from these set pieces all game but had not managed to convert our chances, but on this occasion Baxter's corner was met by Maguire in almost a mirror image of a previous corner his header was destined for goal, but unlike the top draw save that the previous corner produced this time it snook into the back of the net. United controlled the rest of the half and as the whistle went United looked good value for their lead.

The second half kicked off and again the action was at a fast pace, but Bradford had started to out muscle United in the midfield which had become a familiar theme in previous league games, the wing play continued to cause Bradford problems but the performances of McMahon and Doyle began to crumble and they failed
to make effective challenges, but no one was to blame for the equalising goal, an extremely hopeful shot from Jones took a wicked deflection off of Matt Hill's ankle, an extremely fortunate goal. It was here when Nigel Clough infuriated most of the Kop, Billy Paynter had been the best player on the pitch, holding the ball, making a nuisance of himself and cleverly playing the ball out wide to the wings, he looked dangerous and sharp, but he was substituted and on came Chris Porter. It was claimed this was due to fitness but Paynter looked sharper than many other Blades players on the field, and immediately we didn't look as dangerous, Porter didn't win any headers, he wasn't strong enough and didn't provide any kind of threat. A silly foul from McGinn gave Bradford a free kick out wide, it was delivered in and a pathetic star jump in the wrong direction from Long (when it would have easily pushed out to claim it or get it away) meant the ball bounced off his knee directly into the path of Hanson who pulled the Bantams level. United tried again and again to cause danger but despite great play from the wings Porter never looked dangerous on the end of crosses and it was cleared away time and time again. McMahon, Doyle and Collins couldn't
do anything productive with the ball and they were bullied off the ball, and showed no composure on the ball hitting it long straight to an opponent or out of play to often. McGinn nearly made up for the silly foul with a good effort on goal but it was turned away by the Bradford keeper. Baxter made a good run towards goal but was brought down on the edge of the box, he fell hard and had to go off injured, this was worrying as Baxter has been our most creative player for weeks. Miller replaced him and looked sharp but failed to grab a goal despite finding good space on a few occasions. The Blades could have had a winner after an out of possession keeper was rounded by Murphy who got the ball to Flynn but his effort just drifted over despite looking like it was destined for goal. Despite five minute's added time neither team could find a winner. Full Time and two points thrown away by bad tactical decisions, poor keeping and bad luck, we need new talent and fast or the same problems will cost us to the extent that League Two could be a possibility.

-Jonathan Gascoigne

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