Blades clinch victory

Last updated : 16 January 2010 By BladesMadeditor @ Bramall Lane

2800870A battle between two promotion candidates was undoubtedly, and unfortunately overshadowed by an appalling refereeing display by the infamous Andy D'Urso. An average first-half by the Blades wasn't much to shout about, with the referee's performance the main talking point. The second-period was much different, though, on a boggy, heavy surface. A sweet cross from full-back Andy Taylor was greeted by the brave Richard Cresswell, and the striker netted his second goal in two outings.

The only swap in this afternoon's team came at the right-back berth where the bound-to-be-tired Derek Geary was given a rest. Kyle Walker, injured at Leicester on Boxing Day, was his replacement.

The first controversial moment came on 25 minutes; Richard Cresswell was harshly booked for a challenge on McMahon. Robson, making his debut for Boro, conspicuously handled in the area, somehow the referee didn't notice it.

Kyle Walker trekked back and produced a classic, well-timed tackle to stop Flood progressing into the box. With the referee softly handing Middlesbrough a host of free-kicks, all of them were decent crosses into the box and a Boro player got a shot on goal on all occasions; firstly from Osbourne and then from Chris Riggott.

Robson, who should have already been cautioned earlier in the game after a rash challenge, was lastly shown a yellow by D'Urso for his dirty tackle on Quinn. The Irishman clearly, and obviously wasn't pleased with the former Celtic midfielder's lunge. Quinn was immediately booked, as was O'Neill for a confrontation.

It was a drab first-half, with refereeing decisions being the main debate on fans' minds when tucking into their pies and supping their Bovrils at the interval. The United fans were hoping for a more inspiring second-half showing.

Willamson was then in the official's book, rather softly again, and then the former Watford man headed down to Evans, who couldn't smash the ball at goal, after a great, looping, dangerous cross into the box from Walker. Nobody was there to latch on to the ball.

2800851The word 'brave' has been commonly used when you hear the name Richard Cresswell, and 23,000 fans then saw why. Taylor's terrific cross in found the courageous Cresswell who flicked the ball into the bottom corner with his head. Coyne, the Middlesbrough goalkeeper, got a touch, but should have done better.

An electric Bramall Lane was scared when a strong penalty appeal from the North-East men was waved away by D'Urso, who had been so favourable to the away side. Boro, though, could possibly feel hard done by after a silly challenge by Seip, and, at the same time, Walker.

Evans was then down in the area, he went to ground after a clash with Riggott - no penalty, and surprising to say the least with the level of consistency from the referee at a low.

After clinical play from Ched Evans, he laid the ball nicely off to James Harper whose touch flew over the crossbar - it should have been victory signed and sealed for the Red and White Wizards.

Harper then went down on the edge of the Middlesbrough area, but the ball trickled through to substitute Camara who deftly curled the ball round Coyne's hand, only to be denied by the woodwork.

The talented Adam Johnson rocketed a free-kick over Bunn's crossbar, then Darius Henderson entered the fray - it was the striker's first appearance since pulling something quite special off down at Bristol City. He came on for goalscorer Cresswell just before the 90 was up.

In the four added minutes, Bunn calmly collected a couple of routine efforts at his goal. And that was it, full-time came, and the Blades kept their fifth consecutive clean sheet on home soil. United have only lost one in 12, and move up into the play-off positions. It's all going smoothly now, we have a striker in form, a stern rearguard at home, and a strong bench with two players, Darius Henderson and Jamie Ward, on 16 goals between them. The league takes a break next weekend with a trip to Bolton on the agenda. The final score from Bramall Lane, is, Sheffield United 1:0 Middlesbrough.

The images used on this article are copyright to Action Images