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Bamboozling Referee Decision Costs Blades Points

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After a recent upsurge, United have had a disappointing week on the road losing both games at opposite ends of the country. After a sub-par effort at Middlesbrough in the week, United has beaten again, this time on the South Coast at the now new table toppers, Bournemouth.

Today the Blades put in a decent performance and were very unlucky to lose. They were more than a match for the high fliers for most of the game and with chances at both ends, the Blades got the first goal via Gibbs White’s excellent strike from Sharp’s assist. However, a five-minute moment of madness helped by a refereeing blunder saw Solanke from the spot and Billing from close range, turn the game around. United rallied late but Mousset hit the bar from point-blank range right at the death and the home side took all three points. There were positives in the game and some good football and commitment but United simply cannot defend and teams continue to score too easily against a soft defence that

Manager Slavisa Jokanovic surprisingly kept faith with the side that lost at Boro with only one change on the bench; Mousset returning for Norrington Davies. There was no place in the squad for Guedioura, Berge or Burke.

Bournemouth started with young players Zemora, Christie and Anthony mixed in with experienced performers like Cahill, Pearson and Billing. Solanke spearheaded the forward line with no place for former Blade David Brooks.

The game began in dreadful conditions after the rain had been lashing down all day in the Dorset area. United started well with good football seeing Osborn in and his cross-shot was helped over by Travers. The corner came in and fell to Fleck but he could not get any power in the shot. Bournemouth then had their first spell in the game and forced United back. Norwood’s giveaway saw Fleck pull his man down for an early booking. Billing hit the free-kick hard and it was going in before Olsen turned it behind with a smart save.

AFC Bournemouth 2-1 Sheffield United
Saturday, 2nd October 2021 – 15:00 PM
SkyBet Championship
Report by deadbat

Bournemouth then had a period of play but was unable to create any clear chances before good football at the other end saw United beat the press and Ndiaye was in but took too long. The Blades were having some joy down the left with Osborn and Stevens linking well and Norwood put a whipped cross in that was cleared. The away side then won two corners but both were cleared.

Bournemouth then should have taken the lead on 19 minutes when United went back from a free kick on halfway and Olsen made a mess of his pass out but somehow Billing returned it straight back to him when he had an empty net in front of him. The midfielder may have been trying to find Solanke but really should have scored.

The next attack saw the Cherries getaway down the left and a dangerous cross just evaded Anthony and Stevens cleared. The Blades were having opportunities when they could beat the home side’s pressing tactic but equally looking vulnerable when they did not and giving them chances. It was certainly risk and reward football but on wet conditions, maybe not the best tactic. Although when it does work, it looks good and United came out and Osborn put in a lovely whipped cross but Sharp turned it over as the offside went up anyway.

The half ticked over 30 minutes and United then were able to create the best chance of the half when a ball forward from Baldock deflected into the path of Sharp who was in on the angle but he fired badly over. It was the second time in a week Sharp had uncharacteristically missed the target.

Not long after, a ball forward from Osborn saw Cahill turned round and the ex-England man conceded a corner. The corner was a good one and Davies got in and headed down and over the top.

Bournemouth broke and played it down the right and Christie came in but curled well over. The Blades had been the better side in terms of football played and nearly got in again but Sharp took too long to get his pass away.

More decent stuff saw the ball down the left again and Stevens found Ndiaye but his ball back was short and Sharp brought his man down.

Just before half time good work from Fleck to bring it down and move it into Gibbs White, saw the on-loan midfielder work some space but his effort was well over.

There was an additional two minutes of stoppage time played due to an earlier injury to a Bournemouth man and the home team won a late corner but United was able to see it out with Egan keeping firm. The Blades had probably shaded it for possession and play with maybe two decent chances for both teams with Billing and Sharp both missing opportunities. Olsen was the only keeper to make a save though.

The home side came out and looked more determined and had a golden chance as Zemora was through with Davies playing him onside but opted to pass and Solanke right in front of goal had his shot blocked out and somehow the home side could not convert when they had multiple men over. The Blades had been completely cut apart. After this Ndiaye was chopped down and Pearson was booked when the advantage could have been played.

Baldock had picked up a knock and had to go off and Basham came on to play in an orthodox right-back position. There was a couple of skirmishes soon after and Osborn and Smith were cautioned after the Bournemouth man seemed to suggest the Blades player had dived.

On 55 minutes the away side took the lead. It came from a more direct route as a big boot forward from Olsen saw Sharp shrug off his man and get down the right. He waited before patiently rolling it across and GIBBS WHITE hammered it into the top corner. It was a fantastic finish. United had played well and despite a few let-offs themselves had been very positive for an away side.

Basham had not looked convincing and chopped down Anthony and was lucky not to get booked but United’s lead did not last long and on 60 minutes the home side was level.

A ball over the top sent Solanke in and United’s defence was not alert and the striker went running through. Stevens chopped him down but it was seemingly outside the box but the referee Jones who was a long way from the incident somehow gave a penalty. After much deliberation with his assistant who was in a far better position, the award was still given. Stevens may have been sent off if it had been a free-kick being the last man but it seemed quite clear the initial contact was outside the box.

SOLANKE rolled in the penalty and the game was back level.

The turnaround was complete three minutes later when Stevens gave the ball away and the Cherries broke down the left and with men over, the defence was completely exposed. The cross came in from Christie and BILLING scored easily with no one picking up his run into the box.

This spell had completely changed the game, partly through an officiating blunder but the build-up on both goals had seen United’s defence completely carved over. Bournemouth had not played great but upped the tempo for 5 minutes and that was all it took.

The next spell saw little of note happen as the comeback had stunned United and it became scrappy. Ndiaye and Sharp went off for Mousset and McBurnie. The Frenchman did well down the right and his cross did not quite sit for Osborn or Gibbs White.

At the other end, Zemora played a one-two with Solanke and was in but shot into the side netting as United once again were got through with real ease.

McBurnie’s quick feet then won a free kick on the angle of the box and Gibbs White hit the award firmly but it somehow hit McBurnie, who knew nothing about it, and glanced a fraction wide with Travers nowhere.

United was now finally having a go and Basham jumped too soon to connect on an Osborn cross. The game was drifting into the final minutes and Bournemouth managed to spend a fair bit of time down in the right-hand corner and Basham then had to concede a corner from a dangerous cross.

Six minutes of additional time were played and United was now pressing and Bournemouth was hanging on making subs and putting an extra defender on. A final chance came and should have been taken as from Norwood’s deep cross, Egan won the header and Mousset from right in front of goal somehow headed against the bar. The rebound came out and McBurnie’s spectacular overhead kick was deflected wide. The subsequent corner was cleared and United could not find a final chance.

The Blades were desperately unlucky to lose the game on play and even some of the chances they had but ultimately the lack of concentration, focus and inability to defend meant once again they conceded two goals, albeit helped by an appalling refereeing decision.

AFC Bournemouth: Travers, Kelly, Lerma, Solanke (Stacey 90), Christie (Lowe 88), Smith, Pearson, Cahill, Billing (Mepham 86), Anthony, Zemura. Unused: Nyland, Brooks, Marcondes, Rogers.

Sheffield United: Olsen, Baldock (Basham 49), Stevens, Fleck, Sharp (Mousset 73), Egan, Norwood, Davies, Osborn, Gibbs-White, Ndiaye (McBurnie 73). Unused: Foderingham, Brewster, McGoldrick, Hourihane.

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