Olly writes his latest following last night’s Cup exit on penalties.
I was at the game last night, slumming it in the Tony Currie stand, having won two tickets for the game, but also had to buy a third so me and the family could go.
There were just over six-thousand there last night at the game, and although Hull didn’t bring a huge amount I found the atmosphere a bit depressing. You could tell that the Kop was closed as there was virtually no chanting from our supporters. It was a bit deathly quiet throughout the game in respect to our lot, even the Greasy chip butty song sounded a bit flat. I’m glad I’m not on the South stand for matches as on the Kop we usually stand and sing but was a bit out of place when we remained standing for the song haha.
The starting eleven looked a bit odd to be honest. Yes, Norwood started having only just joined and completed just forty-five minutes of training with the team, but we obviously changed the set-up prior to the game. It looked like we went to a back four, with JOC, Egan, Freeman and Stevens, with the latter two still acting as wing-backs. Midfield consisted of Duffy, Leonard, Norwood, and Lundstram, and I think Woodburn was playing just behind Clarke up front. I was happy with Duffy starting, but again I was disappointed with Lundstram, many of his passes were either too heavy or being fluffed. Leonard was pretty quiet as well. Looking at Norwood, I think he was trying to play a more defensive midfield role, and to be honest this lad has potential. He took a couple of long-range shots early on and was very impressive with his work in midfield. You can’t really blame him for missing a penalty at the shoot-out though, many other players have in the past, but at least he had the guts to step forward to take one.
Duffy had a bit of an off game and was brought off and replaced by Sharp at the interval, which we needed anyway as Clarke up front kept missing a few sitters and wasn’t still at his best like last season.
Basham came on in the place of Leonard and brought a bit more stability to the midfield, you could tell that the gameplay was changing with Sharp and Basham on the pitch. We caused more problems for Hull, and when Fleck replaced Lundstram (which should have been done earlier) we more or less had full control over the game. Egan seems to be improving, even having an effort come off the bar in the second half. We had a few mistakes though, the defence looked shaky to start with, and their goal was more or less unopposed with no-one marking Toral. Stevens and dare I say it as I’m a great fan of his; Freeman had a few blips as well. I was sat just behind the home dug-out and could see the frustration on CW face, even had a moment with quote FXXks Sake unquote and nearly fell over himself when we fluffed a chance haha.
We should have won the game in open play though, what with Egan’s effort off the bar, Basham also had an effort cleared off the line, plus we had the ball in the back of the onion-bag, only for the blind linesman to flag it offside. I’ve no idea how he judged that offside as a lot of his decisions throughout the game weren’t going our way at all, and he was having to wait until the referee made the decision for him before he would raise his flag.
Apart from that, I think we held and eventually bossed Hull City, even with their diving to try and grab a penalty from us as well as a few going down on the pitch with broken finger-nails. The stats have us with more possession, a lot more efforts at goal and on target, so I think that most of these came from the second half with the introduction of Fleck, Sharp, and Basham.
It’s Norwich at BDTBL this Saturday which will be a bit of a rush for me as I’ve got to get back home and then leg it to Donny airport for my flight to Majorca with my family for our holiday Saturday evening.
I can see us improving if we pick the creative midfield we have in our stock. Duffy, Fleck and Norwood would be an outstanding midfield in my opinion, however, we have to start with two up front and possibly drop Clarke for the next game and try out the combo of Sharp and McGoldrick.
I’ll be back in my normal seat on the Kop for Saturday, so hopefully we can get a huge crowd and this time drown out the Norwich fans with the singing, that’s what was missing last night, and you know how I always go on about our fans being the best twelfth-man in the League, but we are and it does us proud. Any player on that pitch in the famous red and white stripes will be bursting with pride to wear the shirt hearing our support.
Olly Longden (RFA)
Sheffield United MOD/Armed Forces Supporters Branch