Sheffield United fought their way back from one-goal behind to draw this old South Yorkshire Derby match at Bramall Lane on 14th December 2001.
At a time when victories were difficult to achieve over their local rivals, Barnsley, a draw was a welcome result. They had last tasted victory in February 1996 and since then, in the eight league matches played, had drawn three times. Neil Warnock’s side could also take solace in extending their mini-revival to five league matches unbeaten.
Despite playing in a kit similar to Brazil, the visitor’s performance was considered less than spectacular – though they had taken the lead close to the hour mark via Mike Sheron, who looked destined to have scored the winning goal that would have earned the visitors their first victory away from home. United levelled the match in the final ten minutes through reliable pint-sized striker, Paul Peschisolido, after he latched onto Michael Brown’s searching ball before expertly rounding keeper Kevin Miller and complete the move by finishing at an acute angle.
The game was selected for TV and was a less spectacle drama than the exciting 3-3 draw that had followed two seasons previously.
Neil Warnock wasn’t overall happy with the decisions made by referee Scott Mathieson, and couldn’t help but vibe at the referee in his post-match interview; “I’m proud of them for fighting to the end without any help. I am so disgusted with Georges Santos’ booking. Darren Barnard went down like he’d been shot. Maybe we should train our players to cheat. The refs are cuckoo.”
United began the match tamely and was fortunate not to fall behind in the opening exchanges after Sheron twisted in the box on ten minutes, and his shot cannoned off the foot of the post with keeper Simon Tracey easily beaten.
But United battled against a Barnsley side who were keen to forge counter-attacks. The drop in temperature and frosty surface didn’t help matters. But slowly and surely United made their mark on the game and in 20-minutes, Paul Peschisolido saw his effort chalked off for offside. This was moments after Carl Asaba ought to have done better from close-range after Shaun Murphy invitingly knocked the ball down, the striker should have hit the target but found his effort deflect off Chris Lumsdon before the ball scrambled away to safety.
On 27 minutes, a less than convincing Miller was called into action. From Shane Nicholson’s corner, Miller pulled off a breathtaking finger-tipped save from Murphy’s header and push the ball onto the bar, too much despair from the home crowd.
As the first half approached, Peschisolido was presented with an opportunity from 12-yards but the Canadian’s header, from Nick Montgomery’s cross, was tame and resulted in nothing more than a backpass to into Miller’s arms. At the other end, a swift counter saw Tracey scurry to hurriedly block Sheron’s goalbound effort.
Sheron’s goal secured his fifth goal in three games after Tykes new boss Steve Parkin had reinstated the striker back into the squad but was forced to share the limelight with the brilliance of Peschisolido’s quick thinking, after clipping the ball over the stopper and firing home the angle, the retrieving Tykes defender was unable to prevent the ball from gliding into the goal, but found himself entwined in the netting as the Canadian wheeled away in celebration.
Sheffield United: Simon Tracey, Robert Page, Shaun Murphy, Georges Santos, Gus Uhlenbeek, Shane Nicholson, Michael Brown, Nick Montgomery (Bobby Ford 64), Carl Asaba, Peter Ndlovu (Patrick Suffo 76, Paul Peschisolido (Michael Tonge 90).
Barnsley: Kevin Miller, David Mulligan (Brian O’Callaghan 87), Darren Barnard, Steve Chettle, Lee Crooks, Chris Barker, Kevin Donovan, Gary Jones, Chris Lundsdon, Bruce Dyer (Gary McSwegan 83), Mike Sheron.