Blades Blizzard

The Blades missed a chance to go back into the top 6 as they failed to do enough to see of Nottingham Forest at a freezing cold Bramall Lane. The game took place with blizzard type conditions occurring at different parts of the afternoon and the pitch had one half snow covered; another bathed in sunshine; due to the sun melting the snow at the Kop End. It looked quite odd! The lines were marked out in red and snow had to be shovelled off the Bramall Lane end of the pitch for the closing stages to allow the markings to be seen. The game saw United never at their best and a golden chance for Leon Clarke that he badly missed was as close as he got. Indeed, after an even first half, Forest were the far better side second half and if it was not for Jamal Blackman making several good saves, the visitors would have taken a deserved victory.

The Blades simply never got going and their big performers this season, messrs Clarke, Sharp, Duffy and Brooks did not show up. Not one had a good game. You cannot expect United to win when that is the case. The home side looked a tired team by full time and were devoid of ideas. The lack of energy and bite saw them struggling to create anything of note and by the end were rather fortunate to take anything from the game. With rivals Middlesbrough picking up a point at Brentford and Bristol City and Preston winning; United missed a huge opportunity against a side that in truth had little to play for.

In came leading scorer Clarke and also Leonard for Wilson and Basham (whose wife was giving birth). Jake Wright was back on the bench. There were no places on the subs bench for either Wilson or Ched Evans. Kieron Freeman was also still not involved. Forest had made a number of changes to their squad in January and had Premier League experience in the likes of Ben Watson and Jack Colback in midfield.

The game began with the snow swirling around the Lane and it was certainly difficult conditions. United won an early corner but Clarke’s header was routine for Pantilimon to flick over. Forest had a decent move and Murphy nearly set up Colback but the game was played mainly in midfield. United had a great chance though when Fleck sent over and Clarke somehow headed wide with the goal at his mercy. Forest came back and Bereton had a shot blocked before Evans fired over with a first-time effort over the bar.

Fleck then had a go but his weak shot was saved easily from Pantilimon who at first seemed to be wrong footed. Forest then broke and Dowell played in Bereton but Stearman got a toe in. Stevens was robbed on half way and Cash broke and drew a good save from Blackman who tipped behind. Fox then was booked eventually for stopping Blackman for releasing the ball for several seconds. The game had not been a classic and the half time whistle came with neither side being able to say they had done enough to lead with Forest having the best effort on goal and Clarke missing the outstanding chance for either side.

The second half saw Forest come out quicker and they pushed United back and won two corners but then Baldock broke but his cross was too close to the keeper. Forest then had a flurry of chances and really should have led. Forest got away twice down the right-hand side and crosses came. Dowell had a close-range chance and Blackman saved from point blank range and then soon after Murphy had a shot saved and the rebound went wide; deflected for a corner. It was a tight game but these were clear chances considering what had gone before.

United had not got going second half but had a break away and Duffy had a chance but blazed over when well-placed after some good hold up. Sharp gave way to Brooks but the youngster gave away possession twice to set Forest on the attack. Lolley came on Dowell for Forest. Evans then slipped and this summed up United’s display and Murphy was clear but missed badly into the side netting with the goal gaping and United’s defence all over the place due to the giveaway higher up the field.

Holmes came on for Leonard and United tried to inject something with all three of their creative players on the field for the first time but it made little difference as United could not get any kind of foothold and were constantly giving it away. Forest were not much better but at least had a few moves of note and if anything were pressing harder for the winner and won a series of corners and free kicks. Tomlin replaced Murphy for the visitors as they tried to find the creativity to win the game and they certainly were not settling for a point.

The final move saw Donaldson on for Duffy but United looked disjointed and the crowd started to become frustrated at the performance. The game was halted to clear the snow but the stop start nature of the game meant nobody would have even realised the game has stopped! Blackman then saved well from Murphy and Stearman made a vital interception in the follow up. There were to be 5 minutes of stoppage time played and United had one chance when Fleck made Pantilimon finally make his first save of note; maybe of the entire game really. but Forest ended up spending most of this on the attack and a stupid free kick giveaway from Evans saw them pump one final ball in the box that was cleared. Not long after the final whistle came and the fans trooped out into the streets as another deluge of snow was dumped onto S2.