Blades Fail Again

Last updated : 14 January 2013 By @blades_mad1889

United had only lost once in 15 months at the Lane up to the Hartlepool fixture but now have lost back to back league games and have now gone three games without a victory. With sides around the top winning it means United now are back in the Playoff pack and have wasted the good work done prior to Xmas to get into the top spot.

In truth United were well beaten and like the previous game against Hartlepool; United were outworked from start to finish. The two goals were from the same source but quite different in their execution as a well taken first goal was then added to after the sort of mistake you see on Bloopers DVD’s; as Madden robbed George Long to score. United were awful and never really looked like scoring. It is worrying that with injuries mounting up allied to many players hitting a really poor spell of form; that United seem to be slipping away. Those that have been all season will hardly say it is a surprise as most of the performances have been masked by good results when in truth United have never totally convinced.

United brought in Marcus Williams for Matt Hill after the defender had been ruled out with a broken jaw. New comers Danny Higginbotham and Jamie Murphy made their home debuts for United and the bench was full of youngsters including defender Aaron Barry.

United won a corner in the first minute as they forced to kick towards the Kop end in the first half but this came to nothing. Indeed the visitors made the early running and had a spell in the United third which culminated in an awful mistake by Maguire whose header back to Long was nowhere near the United keeper but Madden got his radar wrong and his finish went high and wide. United had a few long range efforts from Blackman and Doyle but these went a long way over the bar. McMahon’s free kick drifted wide but in truth United had been less than certain in possession of the ball. New man Murphy had seen little of the ball whilst Kitson was in a running battle with the giant centre backs.

Yeovil had kept the ball better and from one such move they nearly profited but Hayter shot wide. The same man flashed a shot in that Long had to tip over and then another effort from outside the box flashed past Long but wide of the post. United had looked ragged and the game game became stop-start with a number of free kicks punctuated when McMahon was fouled from behind and this led to a booking for Foley but then soon after McMahon was booked for allegedly use of the elbow when he jumped to win a header. Both bookings seemed a little harsh.

The half time whistle came soon after with a non event of a half going by with very few chances or incidents but the away side definitely shading the game. You would have hoped the home side would have come out and tried to take the initiative after a lacklustre first half performance but the game sadly continued in the same vein. There was little football of note but Yeovil as the away side were solid, well organised and working exceptionally hard to ensure they had most of the ball when it mattered.

After Webster sent the ball forward into the left hand channel, MADDEN cut inside and was left unchallenged as he steadied himself before firing low into the corner past Long who did not even dive. It was not a huge surprise that the visitors had taken the lead as they had been the better side and it had been coming.

United looked to respond but were relying on the long punt up to Kitson. Dolan was booked after a number of fouls; most of them on Kitson but United looked clueless on how to create anything. Ironside came on for Flynn and Murphy went down the left hand side and had appeals for a penalty but the award would have been soft. Kitson had a shot blocked but the keeper had still not had a save to make.

Disaster struck on 66 minutes when Yeovil doubled their advantage. The ball was played back to Long who stupidly took a touch and tried to dribble around the oncoming MADDEN. The striker simply tackled him and then tapped into the empty net. An embarrassing moment for the young keeper and United were now up against it as the small band of Yeovil fans celebrated wildly.

Cresswell came on for Kitson soon after but the changes to the personnel did not have any real impact as the strikers were still living off scraps and the long high ball to the two centre back who just headed away was becoming rather too repetitive. United won a few corners but these came to nothing and Yeovil were rather comfortable as the game ebbed away. Maguire picked up another needless booking; the second game he has done this as frustration was setting in.

Right at the end Williams came off for Philliskirk to ironic cheers from the Kop who had witnessed another less than impressive performance from the left back. The next noise to come from the crowd were boos as the final whistle confirmed a second successive home defeat.

United – There is not a lot of positive things to say about the United performance, the players and the management today. Higginbotham did alright and Ironside chucked himself about. That’s it. We were dire. Worse than Hartlepool in many ways but I suppose we were playing a better side. I cannot recall one decent effort on goal all game? We never got one good cross in or a good ball played in the last third. We did not have any spell of possession more than maybe 2 or 3 passes all game. We lacked organisation, shape, discipline and technically we were poor all game. The strikers did not work hard enough nor link up, the wingers never got on the ball, the central midfield were shocking and never kept the ball nor won the ball and the defence gave too many openings. The keeper then gave away the worst kind of mistake (other than throwing it into your own net). The manager kept the same line up, did not change the tactics and seemed unable to get his side to up the tempo after an awful first half. If anything we got even worse in the second half.

Our passing, touch and link up were nonexistent. We never got into the last third, players did not move out of their areas and we had little to no idea how to even fashion a chance on goal let alone have one.

The most galling thing though about all of the above is you can kind of accept poor control, skill, passing, movement, vision etc (even though we should be superior to players they are up against – our wage bill significantly higher). What I find hard to accept is the fact that routinely in recent weeks and games we seem to be getting outworked and outhustled every game. Teams and players are simply ‘wanting’ it more than any of our players as many seem to just seem disinterested or thinking they just have to turn up to win. Our midfield duo is a big issue at the moment. Normally if they play well we tend to win but recent weeks they have been awful. Players up against them have worked harder, are often quicker and more mobile. Doyle and McDonald are so slow and very undisciplined too leading to big gaps when teams break. They both need a major kick up the backside as at the moment the central midfield area we are coming out second best most weeks. I am sure there will be a lot of talk on forums about the tactics, line up, individuals etc but for me it the single most important factor in recent performances has been players not working hard enough.

If this United team does not wake up and liven up their work ethic and approach we will slip further and further down the league. Does not matter if we have some talented players if you don’t win the battle, then you do not give yourself a chance for your better players to affect things. Now with quite a few away games coming up (although we have been better away) we face a critical time. The gap is now 6 points which is a fair bit at this stage and we have thrown away a good position. I never thought we were good enough for automatic promotion and sadly recent results are showing this. We easily could have lost the last 3 games. I got hammered for saying I feared it would be an almighty struggle to get into the playoffs and many said there is now way we would not make the top 6. I stand by what I said and fear this side does not simply have the heart and desire to turn things around. There is not much between the top 8 or 9 teams really but on today’s performance you would not be surprised if someone like Yeovil got around the top 6 and with sides like MK Dons, Brentford, Bournemouth, Swindon aside from the top 2 who seem strong; it is going to be touch. Sides like Swindon and Bournemouth have been routinely dispatching sides at home by significant margins. Other than the odd game at the Lane we have struggled badly to put teams away and now teams have realised we aren't that good and are coming here and attacking not defending. This means we should be able to get more chances but actually the last two home games, the opposition has created far more clear chances than us. They looked a sorry bunch at the end of the last two home games and with no one getting hold of them (how could they come out and play even worse in the second half – what did Wilson say?) on and off the pitch they seem a little rudderless to me.

Yeovil – Fair play to them. They worked incredibly hard and chased every ball. They won first and second balls and thus controlled much of the game. It was a confident, solid and professional away performance. They may have a team full of players most have never heard of but man for man they were better than us today in terms of not only application but also touch and passing. Sad that we have got to the point where a side like Yeovil (no disrespect) can basically come to the Lane and win with relative ease. They restricted us to a few long range shots and a few scrambles at the end but their keeper could have read a newspaper he was so unemployed all game. They probably could not believe how easy it was. First half was poor but they still shaded it and had chances. They missed a one on one after Maguire’s error and then had a few other chances when Long had to make a good save. They probably would have been disappointed not to have led.

I thought in the second half we would step it up but if anything they worked even harder and then after they got the goal we become a sorry side. They then became more and more confident and the hard working Madden got his reward and that was it. You never felt we would come back into it and they played the game out in comfort. They must wonder how the hell we are near the top on that form but then most teams that have come to the Lane could say the same.
It was not just about the work rate though as in general football play they were still better than us and I certainly do not want to patronise them for saying it was just effort. That was a big part but they still created more chances, passed the ball better and looked more comfortable in everything they did.

They have been on a good run and are not that far behind us in the table now. Johnson had done well in his early managerial career before not quite having the same success but back at Yeovil he has done well; keeping them up easily last season and now has them towards the top end of the division. They are very organised, functional and chase for every ball. Those things alone will get them results. The lad up top Madden is scoring goals and they have a nice mix of experience and youth. You look at their team and think we should be easily beating times like that but football does not work like that. Yeovil proved that if the work ethic is there and they keep things nice and simple then you can get results in a very poor division.

Long 4/10 – Made the awful error that basically killed the game off. What he was doing only he can know as he should have just kicked it away but seemed to try and do something clever. Up to that he made a good save in the first half when he flicked over and then had little chance with the goal. He is going through a poor spell after his rush of blood at Doncaster last week; a shaky display v Hartlepool and now this. At least he may have put off any watching scouts! Still he needs backing and we need to persist with him. Those calling for Howard to come back need to realise that if we take Long out of the team then that could massively dent his confidence even more. We need to stick with Long for me.

McMahon 5/10 – I thought he was at fault to some degree for the first goal as the striker moved into his area and seemed to cut inside rather easily before striking unopposed into the goal but the centre backs must take blame too. As for the rest of the game he got a daft booking and made some poor challenges giving away free kicks but I still thought he was one of few actually showing some fight; if a little misguided. His free kicks were off the radar today too.

Williams 3/10 – Another wretched performance really. His general touch, passing and awareness is befitting of a player that is not even good enough at this level. He
did little right all game and often lost his man or simply kicked it straight to the opposition.

Maguire 5/10 – Not good at all and his form has been quite mixed in recent weeks.
He still shows some class as he can read the game well and has a decent touch/shows good strength. However he made a number of errors and a few could have led to goals such as the header to Long that was intercepted and another poor header that caused problems.

Higginbotham 6.5/10 – Thought he was our best player. He was not brilliant but he at least won a few headers and got to the ball first. He seemed bewildered what was going on around him as a team that is high up the league looked so bereft of confidence. Think he will be an asset but the defence since Collins (and now Hill out) has gone out has been all over the shop in the last two home games.

Doyle 2/10 – Thought he was woeful today. He did not win the ball/get amongst things and the Yeovil midfield saw far more of the ball than us. As bad as he was off the ball (which is his strength supposedly) he was even worse on the ball. His passing all game was woeful and I can barely remember a pass that found a red and white shirt.

McDonald 4/10 – Another game where inferior players worked far harder than him and actual showed more desire. He made a few decent balls but often got outmuscled too easily or was too slow to react to loose balls. For me he has been nowhere near the standards of last season and seems to be just coasting through many games knowing he won’t be dropped and that as poor as he has been he still is better than anything else we have. I know he got an assist last week but that was rare. For a player we all praise the fact he barely ever directly sets up a goal let alone ever comes close to scoring a goal; shows why he did not get any offers to leave and is stuck at this level.

Blackman 4/10 – His poorest game for us really. He never got into it all day and with little service he did not even go looking for it and the game just sort of passed him by. We surely should have tried swapping him to the other wing or put him up front but Wilson never changed a line up and approach that was clearly not working.

Kitson 5/10 – He spent most of the first half grappling with the two giant centre backs and although he did get fouled quite a bit; he seemed obsessed by looking for free kicks and this seemed to take him out of his game. Second half he barely touched the ball as the service was nonexistent into him as we did not get any passes into his feet or get any crosses in.

Murphy .4/10 – Must admit it may have been his first game and the rest of the team were so poor; but I was really disappointed with him. I had seen all the hype and expected a quick, tricky player that could link with others. Sadly he looked like a slightly taller version of Flynn. He got shoved off the ball very easily and never got into the game as the centre backs were first to the ball. Granted he had very little service but even when the ball came into him; his first touch was poor on more than one occasion. At the end of the day we have to temper our expectations. The SPL is a really poor league and also if Murphy was so good then surely Championship teams or one of the old firm would have taken him. Hopefully today was just an off par game (like the rest of the team) and we will see more of him in a more positive light in a few weeks.

Flynn 3/10 – Can barely remember him touching the ball all game. I can’t remember any crosses coming in from him nor any link play/shots or passes all game? Maybe I am doing him a disservice but the fact he came off and I forgot he was even playing maybe showed his total lack of impact.


Ironside – Brought into a difficult situation but tried hard even though we were just lumping it up to him at least he did challenge and put himself about. Had a half chance blocked and may have had a penalty near the end.

Cresswell – Huffed and puffed but was looking for free kicks by falling over and sadly he looks a player that is right at the end of his career. Needs to pack up at the end of the season I am afraid.

Philliskirk – Pointless substitution. Why was he (or others) not brought on earlier? Had no time to affect the game at all.

Officials – A few around me seemed to be blaming the referee for all out shortcomings which was nonsense. There were a few decisions you could argue and at times he let their centre backs get away with a lot and should have booked them both early on for persistent fouling but to be fair to the referee he did try to let things flow a lot of the game. I can’t recall many clear decisions that went against us or affected the final outcome for all the so called niggly things he may have given/not given. The alleged penalty on Murphy was not a penalty I felt and he went down too easily. At times our players seem to think they are much better than they are and to see Doyle chasing the referee or McDonald handling the ball when he gets outmuscled and falls over; summed it up.

Crowd/Atmosphere – Poor. Decent crowd on the face of it but it was an offer game and was not much more than the rest of the season. Not sure it really works (£10/£5). Club may be better just charging slightly lower prices than they normally do and having set prices much of the season as having category games at this level is a bit laughable as there are no ‘big games/Category A’ games. Not sure those that came for a rare game/one off will be back after such a horrible performance and game of football.

The atmosphere was dead with only a few hundred from Yeovil there who must have enjoyed their day. Many United fans were streaming out long before the end and thus the boos at the end were probably not as vocal as hardly anyone was left in the ground! The home performances and results (so many draws) have not been good enough this season and if continues we won’t go up.

Disappointing to hear the ironic cheers when Long kicked the ball away after the mistake. Sad some of our fans are like that but then there are supporters like that at every club. Long has to be big enough to handle such things. It won’t help him but these things go on all over at grounds. Generally, I am surprised at the criticism fans are getting on forums. To be frank we were ruddy awful and are at the lowest ebb in terms of league position in my lifetime of supporting watching for the most part dreadful football and very little entertainment. I think most fans have been incredibly patient. I look at what has gone on at other clubs (Blackburn for instance with protests) and I think our board/management team (to a lesser extent) get away fairly scot free. We are easily the lowest ranked ‘big’ club in the whole football pyramid and have just lost comfortably at home to Yeovil. If that does not see criticism then I don’t know what does. The Long stuff was over the top but generally these players need to waken up and start getting their finger out. We are paying to watch utter drivel and losing to teams like Yeovil and Hartlepool. It is not good at the moment.