Blades 0-1 Magpies

Last updated : 03 November 2009 By Deadbat_DB

Sheffield United's miserable run of form continued as they slumped to a fourth straight defeat against the now league leading Newcastle United; at Bramall Lane. The manner of performance was once again an improvement on recent weeks and a mixture of bad luck, wayward finishing and superb goalkeeping meant it was another miserable week for followers of the red and white wizards.

Despite the amount of injuries and the misfortune, the pressure is now firmly on manager Kevin Blackwell whose spell at Bramall Lane as manager could be in real jeopardy following the recent run of poor results. United completely controlled the first half and squandered numerous chances without really testing visiting goalkeeper Steve Harper. After the break Newcastle were a much different proposition and did control things but the decisive goal came after a possible foul on Kyle Walker and a ridiculously deflected effort that gave keeper Bennett no chance. United looked set for defeat but a flurry of final chances should have brought them at least a deserved equaliser but two wonder saves from Harper denied even this.

United started the game with more changes in an effort to halt the dreadful run with Stewart and Davies brought in and the former and Matthew Kilgallon employed the partnership down the left hand side. Kicking towards the Kop; the Blades began in determined mood and were first to most of the loose balls. They created an early chance when Treacy's neat footwork saw Henderson slipped in but he pulled his shot badly wide when he should have done better. United continued to play at a high tempo but Walker had to be alert to block Carroll's effort. United went back on the attack and Stewart's cross found Henderson but the big striker miss controlled before laying off to Treacy who blazed badly over with his unfavoured foot. Henderson then drifted out wide left but Quinn's finish was poor when well positioned.

Both Morgan and Carroll were booked in quick succession for overly physical challenges. Walker who had been perhaps the game's outstanding performer then streaked away but was felled in his stride by Taylor who was also cautioned. Treacy had an effort saved by Harper and then good work by Evans saw him work an opening but his shot went a couple of yards wide with Harper seemingly beaten. United had been the better side but they had failed to really test Harper despite creating a number of opportunities.

Newcastle had not really been in the game in the first half but came out with a new focus in the second half and after playing a lot of direct football to Carroll began to utilise players such as Smith, Nolan and Taylor. The game was much more of an even contest but United were struggling to force the Magpies back as they had in the first half. Walker was then halted by Taylor again who was lucky to stay on the pitch as the foul was probably deserving of a yellow. Newcastle finally made Bennett work as he flicked away a chipped Nolan effort but was motionless moments later as Carroll's powerful header glanced off his far post. However, disaster struck on 54 minutes.

Walker slightly overran the ball and Nolan made the tackle. It seemed like Nolan won the ball but it was arguably a tackle from behind and he did catch the man. However, play was waved on and TAYLOR struck an innocuous looking shot but the ball ricocheted off Morgan and left keeper Bennett stranded as the ball span into the opposite corner of the net. It was ironic that Taylor the player that may have been sent off moments earlier was the man who had struck the shot. Walker had to hobble off and be replaced by France as United sought to recover from the hammer blow.

Stewart was then replaced by Cotterill. Harper did well to smother a close range Henderson effort before Evans was replaced by Camara as United tried in vain to get something from the game. Treacy fired over and then as the game entered the final 5 minutes of allotted stoppage time, the same man fired at Harper's legs. United's final chance when as the ball game in and was nodded across goal; Henderson from point blank range was denied by the diving Harper who made a wonder save. Treacy then fired over from the last real chance from a free kick on the angle. The final whistle went not long after and United had that now familiar feeling of defeat once again.

United - Like the Cardiff game we were by no means terrible. We played a smattering of decent football and created a number of chances. On another day we would have at least drawn and possibly won a game like that. However, our finishing was actually appalling from the shocking shooting from all over, to the pulled finishes to even the point blank one like Henderson's that should have been converted. I felt first half we should have been at least one or possibly two goals to the good but did not work the keeper on some decent chances.

Second half we faded away I felt, even before the fortunate goal and our heads seemed to drop somewhat after this. We had a go for the last few minutes but from the hour mark right till nearly the end the game just seemed to drift away. It was almost like we expected to lose which at the moment is the case. They say winning is a habit, but so is losing. It is hard to see where the next point is coming from and for all the excuses (they are excuses; who are these 10 players he keeps ranting about that are injured - Naysmith, Geary - who has been out for 2 years nearly, Cresswell, Ward, Montgomery and that is it for me that could be considered first team possible. How is this 10?), bad luck and whatever other reasons, we are losing and it is s result based business. I actually felt we could have played till Christmas and still have not scored and that is a mixture of some good keeping but mainly dreadful finishing. There was not a lot wrong with the application and the spirit apart from the 20 minute spell after they scored and the players were really up for it and won all the individual battles early but we did not get a goal the game merited. If we lose at Barnsley then the pressure will be massive on Blackwell and he knows another couple of defeats and the board will have no option but to act.

Newcastle - Thought they were poor for the most part but said the same about Cardiff. They both left the Lane with 3 points. They were never in the game first half and played a lot of direct stuff to Carroll, who was admittedly a handful. After the break they definitely controlled things more and I felt they were the better side when they scored. After that they nullified out threat until the frantic final few minutes. In terms of individuals; Harper made a couple of good saves with the last one excellent but even then I felt Henderson should have blinded him. However, Harper was not really tested until stoppage time which is not good enough. The left back Enrique was really tested in the first half but looked one of the better players for them after Walker went off. I thought Colocinni was clumsy and awkward at times and they overall looked shaky at the back first half but he and his defence improved after the break. Smith is a niggly so and so but after not being in the match started to control the midfield and was one of the better players on the pitch. I did not feel Butt did much other than try and referee the game. Nolan and Taylor flitted in and out of the game but became more of a threat second half when Newcastle at least tried to pass the ball. I was really impressed with Carroll (see comments on Morgan). He may be physical but is a good footballer too and he works hard too. They probably will go up but it shows how little there is in the division as Cardiff and Newcastle have looked no better than us but they have both won and that is the difference. When we went on our run last year post Xmas we were hardly steamrolling teams but defended solidly and took our chances. This year we have done neither of those things and our league position is thus no surprise.

Bennett 7/10 - Had nothing to do really. One effort hit the post and another was the goal that left him completely wrong footed when the ball was going the other way.

Walker 8/10 - Thought he was superb first half and defended well and attacked even better. Looked like the Walker of last year and at times looked unstoppable as he marauded down the right flank. Gutierrez never had a kick. However, being ultra critical he tried to do too much on the goal and yes it may have been a tackle from the side/slightly from behind but I felt Nolan won the ball and the referee was probably right. (I know the slow motion shows otherwise but at real time we would have gone made if a foul had been given against our player for likewise)

Stewart 7/10 - Thought he played well first half and was involved in a lot of what we did. Showed surprising ability aerially and showed a decent touch. Faded badly in the second half as United faded as a team and was taken off after he seemed to pick up a knock.

Morgan 5.5/10 - Thought that he looked poor tonight for long spells and was our weakest defender. Sure he may have got fouled a few times by Carroll but equally he fouled Carroll quite a bit too. When Morgan plays a big man, he usually competes well and equally against a smaller player he can often physically impose himself. I felt that tonight against a player that had a bit of everything; a physical footballer who can play a bit; Morgan struggled. Carroll seemed to have a bit too much ability and coupled with physical play; often left Morgs struggling.

Davies 7/10 - Solid enough. Had the easier ride than Morgan in that he was not faced with a direct opponent with Nolan playing off the front man and not always being in Davies's area. However, the last couple of games he has played (Doncaster and today) I have felt he has looked fairly decent. Only criticism is that he needs to look at what boot/studs he wears as forever seems to be slipping around.

Kilgallon 7/10 - In an unfamiliar position and at times it showed but did nothing dramatically wrong defensively and tried to get forward and support where he could. Defended fairly well and did try and take the ball forward a few times. However, his penchant for playing long crossfield balls was annoying by the end of the game.

Quinn 4/10 - I watched him quite closely tonight and in between falling on the floor and holding his head when something went wrong; proved ultimately why he is simply not good enough. Sure, one or two balls went to our players but his main tactic seems to be to get rid of the ball as quick as possible either first time or via a hook. He does not have the confidence in his ability that he can actually keep the ball or go forward with it and the ball is almost always treated like a hot potato. Just not good enough.

Harper 7/10 - A better performance. I thought he got more stuck in, was more involved, wanted the ball more and generally looked more like the player I remembered at Reading. Felt Quinn did not help him at all and now may be the time to bring Williamson alongside him too Montgomery comes back. I do not know which of the two would do the defensive job but we are losing games so some of the players playing week in, week out clearly are not good enough.

Treacy 7/10 - He drifts in and out of games but is one of few players that technically looks good enough. His touch was mixed tonight but he put in some cracking crosses (mixed with some poor ones admittedly) that players simply did not attack. Maybe he should have done better with one or two of the chances he had.

Evans 6.5/10 - He was slightly better tonight but only slightly. At least he was more involved than he has been (which in previous games has been ranging from nonexistent to one or two touches). He did a few decent things and had a good effort just wide in the first half. When he gets it down and plays the ball he looks decent and his link play first half was alright. However, he is too slow to react to things and for a centre forward allegedly brought in to score goals he does not anticipate things. Maybe I am being too harsh but I expect him to be a goal threat and at least have some efforts on goal. Treacy put in 3 or 4 great crosses that neither he nor Henderson attacked.

Henderson 7/10 - I felt he was a real handful first half and caused problems with his strength and hold up play but his finishing was really poor with one or two half decent chances squandered. The header at the end was a great save but he should have scored in my opinion. After the break I felt he faded quite badly and was not in the game as much as the general malaise in United's play set in. At the end of the day for both strikers to have just one significant effort on goal despite having quite a lot of chances/half chances is not really good enough.


France - Replaced the injured Walker and struggled with the pacy Enrique who had not even got past halfway first half.

Cotterill - Came onto a less than welcoming introduction with certain fans probably had enough of his timid; ineffective displays but did not do bad when he came on. Put 2 or 3 really good balls

Camara - Came on but did not really get involved that much.

Referee - Thought it was a really weak refereeing performance where he was influenced too much. It seemed every time that a Newcastle played committed a foul he called Butt over to discuss matters; fair enough in some ways as he is captain but he never used Morgan in such a way. Carroll fouled Morgan constantly and caught him with an elbow. The first time Morgan fouled him; granted it was a poor challenge; but he booked him. Taylor committed two fouls exactly the same on Walker but was booked for one and then let off for the other; this after he had 'chirped' at him for ages in the first half as he appealed another decision. I am not saying it was all one way as he gave some equally strange fouls for us as well as them but there was real inconsistency and leniency and I did feel many of the big calls went against us. It was hard to tell on the goal if Walker was fouled or not and I have seen them given but I actually felt he won the ball. I just felt the Premiership influence of some of their players got to him. The moment when he let Gutierrez walk off to be subbed and ran 20 yards to just show him his watch when it was an obvious booking summed up his weak play.