Sheffield United 1-0 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Saturday, 14th Oct 2017 17:15
Chris Basham’s goal four minutes after half-time saw Sheffield United to a 1-0 victory over the Blues at Bramall Lane. Martyn Waghorn went closest to scoring for the Blues with a shot against the bar shortly after the Blades’ goal, but the home side deserved their victory.
Striker Joe Garner missed out having picked up a knee injury as Town made three changes from the team which lost 3-1 to Bristol City a fortnight ago.
Bersant Celina and Jordan Spence dropped to the bench, while Myles Kenlock, Grant Ward and Adam Webster - who was making his first league start since January - all came into the XI in a 3-5-2 system matching the Blades’ formation.
Webster was to the right of skipper Luke Chambers with Jonas Knudsen to his left. Myles Kenlock and Dominic Iorfa were the wing-backs.
Tommy Smith was on the bench, back in the matchday squad for the first time since recovering from his hamstring injury.
Neither side threatened in the opening 10 minutes at a warm and sunny Bramall Lane, although the home side had most of the ball.
Town’s first serious attack came on 12, Knudsen playing a well-weighted ball down the left for McGoldrick, who cut in and found strike partner Martyn Waghorn but the former Rangers man was crowded out as he looked to turn and get in a shot.
But the Blades were looking the more dangerous side and on 18, following a freekick harshly awarded against Kenlock, Chris Basham returned the ball into the area but beyond all his team-mates and it was turned behind for the first of several home corners.
On 24 Jack O’Connell rose above Webster from John Fleck’s corner but nodded the ball well into the stand housing the Town support.
There was a scare for the Blues four minutes later when possession was lost on the right after Chambers and Iorfa were put under pressure and the skipper slipped. Bialkowski closed down Billy Sharp who cut the ball back and, with the Town keeper out of his goal, Webster was able to clear .
Enda Stevens sent in a dangerous cross from the left which flew across the area without anyone getting a touch, moments before the Blues won their first corner of the game on a rare foray into the Blades’ half. However, it came to nothing.
On 32 - Town having switched their system with Webster ahead of the back four and Waghorn and Ward wide - Waghorn sent McGoldrick away with a clever ball down the right and the Irish international crossed low but too far in front of Ward, who was breaking into the area at the far post.
A minute later, Leon Clarke was booked for an untidy foul on Ward, much to the frustration of the home fans, who may have had a point, although up to then they had had much the better of referee Tony Harrington’s over-fussy approach to officiating.
The Blues were starting come more and more into the game and on 34 Waghorn smashed a shot from distance on the right which home keeper Jamal Blackman palmed behind. From the corner, Knudsen won it in the air and headed over. The Dane will feel he should have done better.
Town were inches from going in front in the 37th minute when the ball broke to McGoldrick on the left of the box following Nydam’s shot from Ward’s cross from the left, but the Blues’ number 10’s effort went just wide.
Blades defender Kieron Freeman suffered a knock in the build-up to the chance and following treatment was stretchered off and was replaced by Jake Wright.
McGoldrick scuffed wide from distance in the 43rd minute with the Blues continuing to threaten.
In the second of five minutes of injury time, Chambers’s clearance was charged down by Sharp on the Town right and Knudsen did superbly to prevent the one-time Town target’s low cross from reaching Clarke and Bialkowski equally well to react and avert an own goal.
Blackman was almost embarrassed by McGoldrick two minutes later, the Blues’ striker reaching a long ball before the keeper could claim on the edge of his box but the interception fell helpfully for the on-loan Chelsea man who was able to claim.
The Blades wasted a freekick 25 yards out moments before referee Harrington brought the half to an end.
The home side had had much the better of the first half an hour but without creating many clear-cut chances, although much of that was down to some staunch defending from the Blues.
Town came into it more in the final 15 minutes following their change of system and Knudsen and McGoldrick may both feel they should have taken their opportunities.
The Blues switched things around ahead of the start of the second half with McGoldrick moving out to the right and Waghorn down the middle.
Four minutes after the restart the Blades took the lead. Fleck got away from Webster down the Sheffield United left and sent in a cross to Basham, who got in front of Kenlock to head past Bialkowski from six yards.
The Blues almost levelled in the 55th minute when Nydam found Waghorn, who brought the ball inside on the left of the area and crashed a shot against the crossbar.
Town made their first change of the game in the 58th minute, Flynn Downes taking over from Kenlock, which saw Knudsen move to left-back, Webster to left centre-half and Downes into midfield.
Within seconds of the switch Sheffield United went close to doubling their lead, Clarke striking the bar with a powerful shot having cut into the box from the right.
Waghorn had another chance to level for the Blues in the 62nd minute of an increasingly open game. McGoldrick, now back in the middle between Waghorn on the right and Ward to the left with the Blues lined-up 4-3-3, played in the Town number nine on the right of the box, where he turned and hit a shot across the face of the box.
The Blades swapped captain Sharp for youngster David Brooks on 68 and soon after the Wales international and Knudsen clashed as they chased a ball down the middle. Referee Harrington penalised the Dane and showed him a yellow card.
Four minutes later, Town swapped Nydam and McGoldrick for Celina and Freddie Sears. The Kosovan international was straight into the action, heading a bouncing ball over after Chambers had nodded back a Waghorn corner from the left.
On 80 Brooks brought the ball in from the left before hitting a weak shot through to Bialkowski. A minute later, Mark Duffy crossed from the right and Clarke’s bouncing header was claimed by Bialkowski to his left.
With six minutes remaining Celina crossed deep from the left but the ball was too high for Iorfa at the far post. As Blackman prepared to take the goalkick, Duffy was replaced by Daniel Lafferty.
In injury time a Celina freekick from the left - Cameron Carter-Vickers having been booked for a foul on Sears - was just about dealt with by the Blades backline, then two long Knudsen throws from the right were similarly repelled.
But the Blades weren’t to be denied a win which takes them to second in the Championship behind leaders Cardiff on goal difference alone.
While the Blues might have claimed a draw had Waghorn’s shot not struck the bar or his later effort not flown across the face of goal, the home side could just as easily have added to the goal they scored just after half-time and were in charge for the most part after the break.
Other than the final couple of minutes Town never put the Blades under significant pressure during the second half and a home win was a fair reflection of the game overall.
The Blues, who are now down to 10th, are next in action a week tomorrow in the East Anglian derby against Norwich City, who drew 1-1 at home to Hull City climb up to eighth a point ahead of Town, at Portman Road.
Town: Bialkowski, Iorfa, Chambers (c), Webster, Knudsen, Kenlock, Ward, Skuse, Nydam (Celina 72), Waghorn, McGoldrick (Sears 72). Unused: Gerken, Smith, Spence, Connolly.
Sheffield United: Blackman, Basham, Carter-Vickers, O’Connell, Stevens, Freeman (Wright 40), Fleck, Duffy (Lafferty 86), Lundstram, Clarke, Sharp (c) (Brooks 68). Unused: Moore, Donaldson, Hanson, Lafferty, Carruthers. Referee: Tony Harrington (Cleveland). Att: 25,799 (Town: 1,452).
Photo: Action Images
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