Blades Can't Cut Through City

Last updated : 25 September 2004 By Kev Monks

City earned their ninth draw in twenty visits, with probably their best performance since Calum Davenport departed, to take a point at Sheffield United.

For the final part of this South Yorkshire trilogy,Peter Reid made four changes from the team that had beaten Sheffield Wednesday. Back came Steve Staunton,Tim Sherwood and Andy Morrell and Claus Jorgensen retained his place at the expense of Graham Barrett who was benched.

On a Bramall Lane pitch which once staged test match cricket and in bright sunshine after we had left Coventry in the pouring rain, United attacked first and Chris Morgan managed to get in a header from the penalty area which bounced off the crossbar before being cleared.

Backed by around a thousand strong Sky Blue support in fine voice, City pressed,Jorgensen got a foot to it and a covering defender cleared for a corner.

This was dealt with by the home defence,but two minutes later,John was fouled and a free kick some thirty five yards out. Michael Doyle took the kick and curled the ball just round Blades keeper Paddy Kenny's left hand post.

Luke Steele has done well in his appearances so far for City and in the tenth minute,chants of "Sign Him Up" were booming out of the Gordon Lamb Stand as the England U20 keeper made a fine catch.

Coventry were playing the ball around nicely and in the 14th minute,they took the lead when Michael Doyle's initial shot was punched by Kenny,the ball fell back to the Irishman who crossed left to the far post for Andy Morrell to head home from close range with Kenny stranded.

The goal lifted City and four minutes later,they should have been further ahead when a catch by Steele from an Alan Quinn cross was dispatched to Doyle who ran with the ball before finding Stern John on the right. The striker who the jury is still out on,turned and fired a low shot with his right foot into the side netting.

Richard Shaw was doing a sterling job at centre half and he dived in to concede a corner in the 20th minute.

City did the same at the other end but a poor kick from Doyle resulted in a clearance and then a free kick was given for something which I missed due to an annoying prat continually standing in front of me,making some inane comment to try and impress the female sat next to him and blocking my view.

Doyle took the kick,smacked it in the net but it was ruled out by the referee Graham Laws for the opponents not being ready.
United manager Neil Warnock (nicknamed 'Colin' by some members of the press - take the letters that make up the name Colin of Neil Warnock and see for yourself) stood in his technical area looking on as Michael Tonge missed with a free header from a free kick and then saw Louis Carey beaten for pace by Tonge and Richard Shaw dived into to get to the ball and earn the home side a 26th minute corner.
Richard Shaw cleared the initial corner and then twice more as United applied the pressure.
In the 29th minute, this pressure paid off for United when Leigh Bromby got round the back of Carey and crossed for Tommy Black on his home debut to head in on the goal line.
With Reid again playing the negative 4-5-1 formation, Stern John found himself having to work extra hard to get rid of his markers and in the 33rd minute, he did just that, when despite being held back,he laid the ball off for Andy Morrell to fire at Kenny from fifteen yards.
Now John does have some skill to him even if he stops if he can't get the ball and a lovely turn by the Trinidadian saw him hit a shot with the outside of his white booted foot which Kenny moved to grab.
Sheffield won a 38th minute corner and Steele rose to collect and then send up field. He is probably the first keeper to do this since Chris Kirkland and it provoked some rather cruel comments from some of the City support "that when Steele's loan spell is up,City should send Scott Shearer back to Manchester United in his place and see how long before they notice!"
As the second half started,United won two early corners before a Harley cross was headed well wide by Black.
It was at this point that Louis Carey had his shirt torn and had to don a replacement without a number.
Ten minutes in,saw Andy Morrell head over from a Steve Staunton corner. Now the City supporters had long been calling for Andy Whing to come on (Whing for Carey seemed to be the thinking),but five minutes later, Whing came on the ageing Steve Staunton. The popular ginger haired defender went to his customary right back position, whilst Carey swapped sides to cover Staunton's role. What Stuart Giddings had done wrong in his outing against Sheffield Wednesday so that he was not the automatic cover for Villa supporting defender is beyond me.
Steele saved again from Black and in the 66th minute, Graham Barrett replaced the hapless Claus Jorgensen.
United were starting to get the better of the decisions from the referee and in the 71st minute, Matthew Mills was booked for remonstrating after being adjudged to have taken the ball out of play by the assistant referee on the Main Stand side.
City did get a decision a minute later when Mr Laws spotted a handball and gave the Sky Blues a free kick by Paul Shaw who had turned out for Rotherham at Highfield Road seven days ago. Michael Doyle appears still to be getting used to the tacking of free kicks following the dropping of Bjarni Gudjonsson and the midfielder's place kick was easily caught by his countryman in the opposing goal.
Reid made his third substitution in the 74th minute,just as the home side had won a corner. It was Patrick Suffo who came on for Neil Wood and the Cameroonian who may not be flavour of the month with sections of the City support after some woeful misses in recent games,but he is still very popular at Bramall Lane as Unitedites in all three stands rose to applaud his arrival.
Andy Gray,Tommy Black and Alan Quinn set up a neat move a minute later to find Paul Shaw in front of goal. He let rip with a point blank range effort. Thankfully,Steele was more than equal to it making a brilliant one handed save to beat away the ball.
When it was delivered back in,Steele was alert enough to put off Shaw who fired wide also from close range.
Michael Doyle became the second City player cautioned when he saw yellow for protesting about what looked a harsh free kick given against Richard Shaw. The ball was moved ten yards forward but the kick ended going well wide.
Andy Whing was working hard at right back and after a superb saving tackle in the 79th minute, he broke down the right and crossed for John to plant a tame header into the arms of Kenny.
After Paul Shaw had been replaced by Jonathan Forte, Louis Carey twice gave away the ball very easily with the second one leading to a United corner.
With Tommy Black being replaced by Hirst and the game deep in stoppage time, City won a throw-in just to our right, the ball was knocked to Graham Barrett. From our lofty vantage point,we could see that all he had to was hit the ball straight and it was in.
However, the former Arsenal midfielder screwed his shot and the ball whizzed well away from the goal and out for a goal kick and give both teams a point apiece.
ATT 16 337
GOALS - Andy Morrell (14), Tommy Black (29)
BOOKED - Matthew Mills, Michael Doyle
Man Of The Match - Take your pick from Luke Steele and Richard Shaw both had fine games.
Mare Of The Match - Tim Sherwood always seems to disappoint and Claus Jorgensen and Neil Wood did not have particularly good games
Steele,Carey,Staunton (Whing 60),Shaw, Mills,Sherwood,Jorgensen (Barrett 66), Doyle,Wood (Suffo 74),Morrell,John SNU Shearer,Johnson