Olly writes his latest following today’s brilliant win over Villa at the Lane.
I was back in my seat on the Kop for this afternoon’s game at a sweltering Bramall Lane. I checked Twitter for the team line-ups and was impressed to see our midfield starting trio of Fleck, Norwood, and Duffy. With Sharp and McGoldrick up front, I was sure we would get the goals today.
The first came early on from JOC, with a header at the away end, followed by Duffy and then Norwood. It seemed as though our goals were just coming from the defenders and midfielders, but Sharp managed to net in the 2nd half.
We should have finished 6-1 to be fair, with Sharp being judged offside for one he had in the net, and Norwood was unlucky to hit the post as well.
Our lads came straight out of the starting blocks and played a really good first half of attacking football, a lot different from the opening games of this season, and obviously were rewarded for their efforts with the three points. I couldn’t fault any of the team that started the game, Henderson is becoming a real character in between the sticks, and I reckon there’s a song for each of our players haha.
We went a bit flat in the second half though, Fleck was withdrawn and Lundstram was on in his place, and as soon as that happened we seemed to sit more defensive. With Lafferty being brought on for Duffy shortly after I believe we went to a four-four-two formation and seemed to struggle with Villa pressing. We did regroup towards the last ten minutes though and pushed Villa back and made a few chances for ourselves, especially when Washington was introduced in place of Sharp. He seems a pacey lad and a few were surprised when he started legging it back and forth to close down the Villa defenders. You can see we sat back from the possession stats with Villa having sixty per cent of the possession. Shots were equal in the end with nine apiece, but we had more on target with six to their two. It was funny listening to some of the people sat behind me on the Kop who commented on Washington’s size with “I wonder if his mother knows he’s here!” All of them put a good shift in today, McGoldrick was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet as well.
It’s going to be interesting to see what happens when Coutts gets a start. We’ve got a cracking midfield with Norwood, Duffy and Fleck. Would we go to four-four-two to accommodate Coutts as well? I think it’s going to be a selection nightmare for Chris Wilder!
I reckon the Villa fans were getting either bored or restless at the away end, even started fighting between themselves in the second half!
All round our team is looking stronger game by game, and with the other two new signings introduced prior to kick-off with Johnson and Cranie it seems we are building a formidable team to keep us in the running for promotion this season.
There were a few moments in the game that marred the play though. I’m not sure how much Grealish is being paid but it’s far too much for such a drama queen. He was constantly going to ground looking for a free-kick and even worse trying to get our players booked. I saw challenges on our lot but people like Duffy just shrugged them off and carried on. Not Grealish though. I’m unsure as to whether he’d slipped the referee a few quid as well to turn a blind eye, which he seemed to do throughout the game. You could tell we weren’t going to get any of the decisions at all and when Basham got a yellow card for a soft challenge – none of the Villa players did for the same challenge on ours. I thought the referee was shocking, constantly pulling play back for a foul in Villa’s favour, especially should anyone go anywhere near Grealish!
Some other of his decisions were questionable. If a player goes down and it’s clearly not a head injury and he allows play to go on, why is it ok to play the advantage to give the opposition a chance, then blow for the injury once the chance has gone, then drop the ball and expect us to kick it back to Villa? I think that’s bad for officials to do.
Anyway, our lads overcame this bias and rode the challenges to grab the points to put us third in the table. Next up is away at Bristol City, I’m hoping that the lads who will be going out on international duty will manage to come back injury free and fully fit to keep the pressure on the top of the table.
I’m off on a course tomorrow, so I’m glad I got to get to this game, although gutted I’ll be missing my lads Cup game on Monday night for Staveley MWFC U18s vs Bradford Town on the first team pitch, plus I’ll be missing the home mid-week game against Brum, but reckon I’ll make the Preston game. I’m actually hoping for a few more but I’m sure my work will be right on my case to get back to sea!
Anyway, what a game today was.
Olly Longden (RFA)
Sheffield United MOD/Armed Forces Supporters Branch