Sunday, 19 January 2014

Bursting Our Bubble

This Was Written January 12th but published late due to technical issues****

Notts County 2
Sheffield United 1
Meadow Lane
Attendance 8,564

Away Blades 3,321

A large Blades following still on cloud nine after the stand out Cup performance had to watch helplessly as we sealed our own demise in Nottingham, suffering our second straight league defeat. Nigel Clough left many fans baffled leaving Murphy on the bench and playing Conor Coady, a holding midfielder, on the wing. Despite being out of his natural position Coady gave United a dream start in the second minute of the game. Coady made a run at County's defenders before intelligently playing a one two with striker Chris Porter, he was left with the task of rolling it into the goal and he made no mistakes, an early lead which left the following
army of United fans in raptures. There were a few half chances after the goal but non that stand out as clear cut opportunities. The best chance came as Flynn had the ball at the edge of the box, after his goal against Villa one would think his confidence was sky high and with the keeper at the wrong side of the net everyone was expecting him to rifle an effort towards goal, instead he passed a ball into the box which lead to Porter loosing possession totally killing the momentum we had tried to build. Notts County then began to take the game by the scruff of the neck, physically pushing United around and exploiting the out of position Coady's lack of pace on the wings. County's big target man Enoch Showunmi caused us problem after problem with his strength and determination, every time we thought he had been dispossessed of the ball he seemed to keep hold of it, this combined with our inability to deal with Campbell-Ryce using the same tricks over and over again to get past our defence led to the equaliser. A lofted ball to the pacey winger gave him the opportunity to get past Matt Hill and float in a cross, this hit Showunmi on the chest after some poor keeping and fumbling from Long eventually ended up in the net. United were second best from here on out and our only glimmer of hope to take back the lead was controversially taken away by the officials, after a clear handball in the box. A corner from the Blades was cleared away by the head of County goal scorer Showunmi, the clearance only came as far as Coady at the edge of the box who hit a shot hard towards goal, The county number nine Showunmi then proceeded to make what can only be described as a diving save, a blatant penalty to everyone except the match officials. Half Time was blown for and despite the County having the better time of things The Blades were more than a little annoyed at some of the refereeing decisions.

The second half began and McMahon had an early chance to grab a goal but managed to hit his effort over the cross bar. County then again took control of the game and could have taken the lead but Murray like McMahon previously hit it over. McMahon then played a dreadful back pass towards Long who had to dart off his line (not something Long has been particularly impressive at as of late) to prevent County getting their second goal. By this stage United were not any kind of contenders for the game, Coady was being exploited out wide, the midfield couldn't keep the ball or make an effective challenge and despite the odd long ball
racing the forwards we were out muscled and showed no spark upfront. Clough made a change but baffled the fans by bringing off Flynn and putting on Paynter, everyone was expecting Porter to be replaced as he was not causing any threats up front. Paynter made an immediate impact holding the ball well and shrugging off challenges it was refreshing to see a striker with a bit of strength. It was the substitute who gave United a rare chance, holding up play well before putting it into the box, unfortunately Porter was facing the wrong way and couldnt get the ball under control to turn and shoot. The inevitable happened and County took the lead after a dreadful mistake from Matt Hill who up until now had been one of our better players in recent weeks, a high ball forward from the county defence came down and instead of controlling the ball Hill let it bounce in front of his foot, it bounced past him and into the path of County's winger, play was switched and Sheehan played a cross into the box to Fotheringham whose initial effort was kept out but he managed to grab a goal from the rebound. More controversy came as McMahon was booked for simulation when everyone in the stands thought it was a genuine foul. United had a glorious chance to equalise against the run of play, Baxter and McGinn linked up well and McGinn found great space in the box all he had to do was hit it hard and low into the net as the keeper was out of position, but somehow to the disbelief of the three thousand plus Blades he hit a lofted shot over the bar. That was the last of Uniteds chances as County professionally saw down the clock to take all three points.

-Jonathan Gascoigne

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