Friday, 7 March 2014

Excellent Eight

Sheffield United 2
Peterborough United 0
Bramall Lane
Attendance 16,051

I entered Ladbrookes on London road roughly an hour before kick off, I had been enjoying a soft drink or two in the pub and decided to have a tiny flutter on the game (I didn't win incidentally but that's not the point of the story), I hadn't heard the team sheet yet and decided to stick a pound on a repeat of Milton Keynes away, Scougall first scorer, Blades 1-0, I got odds of 60/1. Despite our run of form the bookmakers believed Peterborough would be our undoing, doing well in the league and have since the early goings, Peterborough were tipped to be our pothole in the road, fellow fans were also pessimistic, some thinking a draw was the best we could hope for. The team sheet added to this attitude, my mood was ruined because Scougall wasn't starting, my bet was doomed before it had begun. Six changes to the eleven that got our first victory at Stadium MK, two were expected with the injury's to Brayford and Murphy, but six? We couldn't work out if Clough was a genius or had lost his mind. On the walk to the ground it was noticed that the great wall of china had been erected in the Blades car park, it was only a double take that made me realise that the huge line was actually Blades fans waiting patiently in line for Charlton tickets. 

As mentioned earlier six changes were made, young players Terry Kennedy and Callum McFadzean were given starts, Miller, Paynter and McGinn were recalled and Ben Davies made his first home start. Davies and Hill took up the full back roles giving Kennedy the chance to play alongside Collins in central defence, a good experience to learn from a veteran defender who is in the form of his life. With the hero from Fulham Miller playing up front with Loanee Paynter the midfield four consisted of Doyle, McGinn, Coady and McFadzean. The two managers, both sons of legendary managers in their own right knew the importance of the game at hand, Ferguson, who earlier in the season accused United of parking the bus to grind out a draw, had at his disposal a team that was netting goals for fun earlier in the season, had lost their flair in front of goal, and had only two in five games to their name. Clough who has been trying desperately to rubbish any talks of promotion or play off's (rightly so) knew that eight wins on the bounce would give us the perfect momentum to put the bottom half of the table truly behind us. 

As the first half got under way the Blades looked the brighter but it was a tentative affair to begin with, both midfield looking to take early control of the game. Any doubts over Uniteds team selection, or fears that the change was going to cause a breakdown in organisation were put to bed in the early goings as Kennedy got forward from defence to nearly put away a corner. Miller sliced his early effort after being put through by Coady. The visitors had no intention of letting us have everything our own way however and we were nearly punished by a Peterborough counter attack, McQouid hit a half volley from out wide but it never got the right direction and drifted wide of the goal. After taking back hold of the game and passing it round well McGinn fired a weak effort into the arms of Olejnick in the Posh goal. United began to dominate proceedings and despite Peterborough trying to break down the wings they never got a chance to threaten in or around our area. United went close again and again, Miller had a shot deflected over the crossbar while McFadzean had an effort deflect wide of goal. McFadzean then limped off the field of play having picked up an injury, he was replaced by tricky winger Ryan Flynn. The best chance of the half came as McGinn fired a long range effort
goal wards, he was denied by the post, the rebound fell to Billy Paynter, but the Doncaster loanee couldn't get it past the Posh keeper who stopped his trickling effort. As the players headed down the tunnel for half time we all knew United were unlucky not to have the lead, the makeshift eleven were doing us proud, and dominating a team that was odds on to put an end to our winning ways, it would have been interesting to see what odds I would have gotten at half time for in play betting. Kenendy had been particularly impressing, he looked confident, composed and most importantly he looked like he belonged. 

The whistle for the second half saw United looking for the elusive goal that the first half had denied them despite deserving at least one, the passing football continued and Peterborough struggled to come up with an answer, they looked like they were the team with six changes on the night. They showed no real communication and at time looked a squad of individuals rather than a single unit. The frustration set in and early on Miller was brought down in a dangerous position after tormenting the Posh back four with a teasing run. Davies and McGinn stood over the dead ball, McGinn had been testing the waters all game with long shots, Davies had been playing well out of his familiar position as a full back and looked like he really wanted to be the taker. Davies was the one who struck the ball and what a peach of a hit it was, curling over the wall and bulging into the back of the net. A great way to get your first goal for the club and you could see it meant a lot for him from his celebrations in front of the Kop. United nearly had a quick second to add to the scoreboard, Paynter laid off a neat ball to McGinn, unfortunately for him he
miss hit the ball and hooked it over the bar. Peterborough almost pulled a goal back after making a double switch, Baldwin got on the end of a corner but couldn't get the ball into the back of the net. McGinn had picked up a knock and was replaced by Stefan Scougall who straight away added a new element to the game. United fired straight back and after good work from Flynn he looped the ball over the box to the waiting Miller, but he couldn't get the ball under control in time, and what was an open net suddenly had a wall of Peterborough players on the line, Miller was forced to take the ball wide and his effort was blocked away for a corner. Super sub Chris Porter made his way onto the field to replace Paynter who had a very quiet game, Porter imediatley started putting himself about and using his fresh legs to Uniteds advantage, and after getting the ball in the box with his back to goal he laid off to Coady who put it narrowly over, Scougall
the architect of the move who initially found Porter in the box. Peterborough began to get back into the game and won a number of corners, but Kennedy who was having a dream first home start and Collins mopped up every single one. The game was won late on as Porter grabbed Uniteds second. Coady made a brilliant rampaging run forward shrugging off challenges from opposing players throughout the middle of the park, Coady then used impeccable vision to carve out a pass to Porter who left his marker flat on his back after overpowering
him, one on one with Olejnock Porter calmly rounded the ball past the keeper with the side of his foot, two goals up and game over, the lane in raptures as the run looked destined to continue for at least one more game, whilst the bookmakers watched through sweaty palms and fingers as they suddenly regretted the odds given to The Blades. A deserved two goal lean was seen out comfortably, Peterborough had nothing left to offer and any hope of attacking football from them fizzled out as they came to terms with the defeat, Ferguson left wishing we had parked the bus in this game like he suggested we did in the last. As the whistle went a chorus of "We love United" rang out, six league wins on the bounce and eight in a row overall, form we could have only dreamed of a month or two ago, and the manager, the staff and the players deserve a huge amount of credit and applause. Promotion is the stuff of nonsense at this stage, but I think it is safe to say that if we can continue with this kind of form and keep the level of performance anywhere near this we are well and truly safe.

-Jonathan Gascoigne

No comments:

Post a Comment