Sunday, 30 March 2014

Taking Chances and Highway Robbery

Crawley Town 0
Sheffield United 2 Stadium
Attendance 3,622
Away Blades 795

Two goals from loanee Conor Coady condemned the home side to their first home league defeat of 2014 and kept the play of fantasy alive mathematically. In a tight game on a dark Tuesday evening it was crucial to take every chance presented to you. And Crawley had their chances with Mark Howard making good saves from ex-Blade Kyle McFadzean and Andy Drury twice, but there was no way through a well-organised Blades defense. The Blades cut through to open the scoring on 18 minutes, showing a more clinical touch than the home side, Mark Connolly and Mike Jones both fell trying to stop Jamie Murphy down the left and although McFadzean managed to block Murphy's cross the ball fell to Conor Coady, from twelve yards out he powered it home past Paul Jones.

United began the second half on the front foot but the home side should have leveled on fifty four minutes. Mike Jones’ shot ricocheted into the path of Drury who went for goal from a tight angle. Howard blocked his shot with an outstretched leg and Tubbs could only force the rebound over the bar. The Blades doubled the lead and put the game to bed in the sixty second minute, Murphy's trickery saw him ease past Connolly down the left and his cross found its way to Coady, he hot a power effort and watched his drive fly past a helpless Jones. Crawley had no way back into this and three valuable points were on the board.

Swindon Town 2
Sheffield United 1
The County Ground
Attendance 8,441
Away Blades 982

The Blades were robbed of three points and suffered defeat thanks to the man in charge deciding he was going to pick this game to show how much he loved Swindon Town. Flynn, Scougall and Baxter all returned after being rested at Crawley. Maguire missed out due to suspension, an accumulation of yellow cards, whilst Porter and McGinn dropped to the bench. The game started late, a victim of a delayed kick-off due to an accident close to the County Ground, After a quiet opening quarter of an hour, the home side took the lead in the eighteenth minute, Ben Gladwin picked out the run of Storey with an excellent throughball and the young striker scored for the second match in a row with a clinical finish, high to Mark Howard’s right. The Blades had failed to get going in the first half but failed to take advantage of two glorious chances to level the tie towards the end of the half. Firstly, Wes Foderingham saved well from Connor Coady low to his left and then got up high to his right to keep out John Brayford’s header when the bearded one was left unmarked at the subsequent corner.

After the break Sheffield United improved and as Swindon sat further and further back we looked in control. Finally after knocking at the door time and time again The Blades equalized on the hour mark. Stefan Scougall and Kieron Freeman combined excellently down the right to set up Doyle for a simple tap-in at the back post. Porter headed over a Davies corner as the final fifteen minutes approached, the Blades looking the more dangerous and there was an appeal for a penalty turned away when Freeman went down under a Archibald-Henville challenge. A half-volley from Doyle on eighty two minutes, which could not have been far wide of the top corner, emphasized the fact that United were on top and Porter almost got on the end of a McGinn pass but Foderingham was quickly off his line. It was at this point the great County Ground robbery of 2014 took place, firstly we set the scene. United had been the dominant force of the second half, and after the equalizer were committing men forward, pushing on hard to win the game, Flynn was fouled on the edge of the box the ball came to Coady who slotted it into the back of the net, now if Flynn had kept going and passed it Coady would have been offside, but from his last touch before being fouled Coady was onside, play was brought back for the free kick the goal disallowed and the resulting counter attack (after an excellent save from Foderingham) saw Swindon take the lead, raced-up the other end of the pitch and scored when substitute Thompson's shot squirmed away from Howard and the spin saw it bounce across the line, not only did United not get the win but they were denied any points despite deserving so much more.

- Jonathan Gascoigne

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