Graham Westley brought a typical physical side to Bramall Lane, a tactic displayed before whilst manager of Stevenage. It came as no surprise when the Blades were awarded with a penalty and Billy Sharp despatching his fourth goal in as many games, cancelling our Conor Washington's earlier opener. Having wasted a number of opportunities during the first half to gain any advantage. With the small matter of the FA Cup next week it was vital that the Blades started the year with points on the board. With next week’s trip to Blackpool re-arranged until later in the month, the Blades may find themselves slightly lower in the league table come teatime next Saturday.
Erhun Oztuumer put the Posh back in front shortly after the re-start and when Chris Basham found the back of the net with seven minutes remaining a point looked likely. But their efforts went in vain as Peterborough marched up field and after Miles Addison danced around three defenders, he coolly slammed the ball home to give the visitors a vital victory.
Blades boss Nigel Adkins played a similar side which ended 2015 with a victory over Bradford City, making one enforced change, Sammon for the injured Done who had failed to recover following his hamstring injury sustained against the Bantams. Jose Baxter continued on the bench following his 'in house' suspension, as did Che Adams who returned from a three match ban.
Despite first impressions it was United would made a rallying start to the game, applying early pressure and forcing a number of corners. A rain soaked Bramall Lane pitch gave the opposition much concern but they weathered the storm with teh exception of Sharp's effort which flew over the bar. Posh keeper Ben Alnwick was finding the conditions difficult at the best of times, having caught a cross he thumbed out for a corner and from a back pass completely misjudged, luckily for him the ball spun away for a corner.
The football gods wasn't shining much joy on United, so it was typical when Posh scored on their first attack of the afternoon. With 18 minutes played WASHINGTON was given time and space to control the ball down the left channel before his powerful shot rocketed into the Kop end with Long stretching and powerless to prevent his tenth goal of the campaign. Soon afterwards Hamnmond was caught in possession but with the aid of both long and Edgar kept out Washington and Taylor from extending their lead.
After that it was one way traffic as the Blades pressed the opposition, Sammon saw appeals for a penalty denied after he was brought down by Baldwin, Basham half-volleyed at goal but Alnwick saved comfortably. When the goal looked breached after Sharp's snap shot at goal, they were rescued by the post with Peterborough somehow scrambling away to safety. After good play from Woolford down the flank saw Coutts effort blocked as shots rained on the Posh goal. Coutts corner saw Edgar's header kept out by Alnwick but would soon find themselves level when Sharp burst through the box, only to be brought down by Smith. He picked himself up before SHARP fired home from the spot to draw the scores level.
United marched on and were unfortunate not to go into the break as the leaders, Boro suffered bookings to Ricardo and Fox - the latter after twice fouled Brayford when he twice nut megged his marker only to be dragged down near the corner flag. Coutts curled in a free-kick after Basham was fouled by Santos despite his effort being on target, Alnwick pushed away. Another free-kick saw Basham head wide when it mattered from Woolford's delivery as they went into half-time level.
The second half came as a disappointment to the Blades faithful as they were unable to match the quality of play they produced in the first 45 minutes. Having been booked the opposition replaced Fox with Wilson, most probably before he was sent off! Three minutes had elapsed when Peterborough struck a sucker blow. Forrester had already tried his luck but OZTUMER went one better, with Basham backing off he was allowed to fire from distance, his 25 yard effort flying beyond Long and into the top corner.
Maddison threatened to extend their lead but he fired wide and some patient play. On 56 minutes Baxter replaced Sammon as Adkins looked to add fresh impetus to the side and the new fresh pair of legs saw his shot blocked on the edge of the area. Maddison again tried his luck but Long kept him at bay and, at the other end, Sharp's acrobatic volley from Coutts cross lacked conviction as Alnwick gathered easily.
The majority of the match saw Posh make all attempts to exploit the counter attack but with seven minutes remaining their tactics looked outdone. A smart move involving Coutts, Brayford and Adams saw Woolfoprd deliver to the far post, Basham scuffed his opportunity but as the ball angled goal wards, the ball bounced off BALDWIN'S head and trickled over the line. The Kop was bouncing and a roaring noise indicated that United could go onto win the game. United fans were still celebrating when Boro hit back instantly, lacklustre defender allowed substitute SAMUELSEN to pick up the ball on the left, he cut inside before a jinxing run saw him dance around four defenders before beating Long.
Due to Peterborough's slow 'time wasting' tactics the fourth official added 6 minutes of injury time to the 90. Baxter saw his effort blocked by Oztumer and from the resulting corner Brayford flashed over the top. Further chances saw Adams shot blocked but they struggled to find that elusive goal as Peterborough came away from Bramall Lane with all three points.
Sheffield United: Long, Brayford, Basham, Coutts, Sharp, Collins, Woolford, Sammon (Baxter 56), McEveley (Adams 71), Edgar, Hammond. Unused: Howard, Flynn, Campbell-Ryce, Reed, K Wallace.
Peterborough United: Alnwick, Smith, Baldwin, Taylor, Oztumer, Maddison (Samuelsen 78), Almeida Santos, Washington, Beautyman, Fox (Wilson 45), Forrester (Addison 90). Unused: Angol, Henry, Coulibaly, Nicholson.