Sheffield United 1 Crawley Town 1

Last updated : 06 October 2013 By deadbat_db

In truth a draw was probably a fair result after Crawley shaded the first half before United were on the ascendancy in the second half. The home side would have been disappointed once again with their overall performance with the slow tempo and lack of penetration features of another limp showing. United may have got a point but in truth it was another lacklustre showing. It may give manager Weir another stay of execution for at least a week but time is running out rapidly for the rookie boss to put in a complete performance and a winning result.

United brought in new signing Simon Lappin at the expense of Matt Hill; with Murphy back on the bench. Crawley included former Blades Kyle McFadzean and Billy Clarke in their starting line up and were 5 unbeaten as opposed to the home side’s 6 game losing streak.

United began slowly and the crowd were soon frustrated as sloppy passing and lacklustre play saw Crawley on the offensive. Clarke had an effort deflected over and then the visitors won a corner as the Blades struggled to get any kind of ascendancy. United finally broke out and won a free kick but Hall’s effort was comfortable for Jones. Crawley had been the brighter side and a clever move led to the opener. A short corner saw Clarke back heel into the path of Drury whose cross was perfect for PROCTOR to nod home unopposed. It was a well worked goal from Crawley but sloppy defending from United who let an unopposed cross come in and a free header. The groans from most of the Lane after the goal were inevitable as the small band of Crawley fans celebrated.

Untied tried to respond but were actually still on the back foot as Clarke nearly got in and Sadler then shot wide as the frustration grew on the terraces. Sadler and McMahon were booked after tussling before Collins then glanced wide in a rare opening from the disappointing home side. Cuvelier had been pretty anonymous but picked up a knock and was replaced by Coady.

Crawley had been by far the busier and more enterprising side and both Proctor and Adams had efforts shortly before the Blades had an appeal for hand ball waved away. Soon after they were lustily booed off the field at the half time whistle. It had been dreadful fare and United were deservedly behind.

United had another appeal for a penalty but this one was more half hearted as Doyle’s effort hit Jones. Soon after McMahon finally had a decent effort on goal for the Blades but his well struck shot glanced the inside of the post and bounced away. It was a fortunate let off for the visitors who then went on the offensive and Maguire held off Adams with Crawley this time appealing for a spot kick. Clarke had an effort saved by Long.

United made a change with Weir putting on Taylor for Hall and going more offensive. They seemed to be employing two up front with Taylor supplanting King. Coady had one run thwarted and was forcing the home side forward and his pass led to Brandy picking out KING inside the left hand channel who slotted past Jones. Many United fans reacted with surprise as much as excitement that they had finally seen a goal! It had been a decent move and well made and finished.

United tried to build on this and had another penalty appeal as Brandy went down before Collins headed over and the Taylor sliced wide. The crowd finally responded and Coady drove forward again having his near post shot turned round the post by Jones.

Brandy came off for Murphy as the game entered the final stages and United tried to force a winner. Crawley made several changes as they tried to slow things down. However the visitors nearly broke before Maguire’s last ditch tackle thwarted Clarke. United tried to have one final push but after Murphy’s low shot was saved they could not muster a meaningful efforts despite winning two late corners and the final whistle came soon after.

United – The first half was really poor. It was as bad as anything else we have seen in the recent run and we have seen some dreadful performances in the run. Crawley scored a good goal but it was poorly defended. They nearly scored a few more and were sharper, quicker and more determined. We looked clueless. We gave the ball away, did not win loose balls and created nothing. It was dire.

Second half we improved. McMahon hit a post and Coady gave us some forward thinking play and we at least tried to get it into the last third and turn the opposition. We scored a decent goal but then after this I never felt we really pushed on and did not create that many more chances. I felt with almost half an hour to go we would really have a go and pen them back but it never really happened and we only had half chances and a few token appeals for penalties.

Overall the draw was about right and you could not say United did enough to win and Crawley had as many chances as us over the 90 minutes. Even second half they had as many opportunities as us on the break and I felt it was so slow for us to get into the last third even considering the improvements.

For the most part it was poor. We were slow, ponderous and unimaginative. We created little and were too slow to get anywhere near the last third. I felt for much of the game we were second to the ball or when we had it were so sloppy. We could not even do the basics right; namely pressing, tackling and effort let alone simple passes and movement. It was wretched for an hour. We did get a bit better but that was more percentage stuff as much as the passing game suddenly working. The goal was decent but it was more due to transferring it forward quickly and a decent ball from Brandy than patient, controlled football in the build up.

I never felt even after the goal we would suddenly up it a gear and start creating chance after chance. It was still slow and meandering. I never felt we would suddenly create chances and everything was so narrow. We never got it wide and even with two up front, it was all very congested and more just hopeful stuff than any meaningful play with clever balls or crosses.

It is poor to watch and I feel we will have a lot of games like that where we may get an odd goal or point but never do enough to create a series of chances. Whilst at the other end we look like we may concede as teams come at us with quicker pace and more conviction.

We now have a tough away game minus two key players and then two more home games where I see more of the same as tonight. If we cannot get behind teams and create chances we are going to struggle as we lose much of the first and second balls in the middle of the field and then when we finally get the ball take an age to move the ball from side to side and eventually forward. It is all so slow and pedestrian and painstaking to watch.

Weir may survive another week or so but I see no tangible sign of improvement. The fact some coming out seemed happy with a draw versus Crawley shows how far we have fallen.

Crawley - First half they were good. They scored an excellent goal which was right off the training ground. They then could have had a few more too and were quicker and more determined to the loose ball and far more positive in their attacking approach. Second half as United came back they sat back and after we scored they started to time waste and almost settle for a draw. I found this odd as the few times they did attack or break they nearly scored. They would have been better attacking than defending as they may have got another. Overall they deserved a draw as they had as many chances and as much of the ball I felt. They maybe were hanging on or had settled for a draw but it was not like we created chance after chance at the end and I felt they saw us off after the leveller more comfortably than they should have.

Another side that looked relatively ordinary but many of the teams look much of a muchness. None look superb but many seem better organised and more cohesive and hard working than us. So regardless of talent these teams have a head start due to such organisational qualities and if we cannot show more subtlety or creativity in the last third than teams will see off our lack of penetration rather easily.

Opposition star man – Nicky Adams. Always impressed me in the games last season and now this. Tricky wing man who works hard, gets up and down and shows a decent touch and ability on the ball.

Opposition weak link – Noone stood out as particularly weak. They were all workmanlike. Nothing special but worked for each other and deserved their draw.

Long 7/10 – Had little chance on the goal as he was left badly exposed. Cannot remember many other chances they had really but he made a few standard saves throughout the game

McMahon 7/10 –Got stupidly involved in a tussle with Sadler which led to yet another unnecessary booking. In the game itself he was a mixed bag with some decent attacking play including a shot which was unlucky when hit the post. Defensively at times he gave his winger too much time. Felt on the goal he stood motionless as the scorer came across to head home easily. However second half showed some real gusto as he got forward and showed some determination and became more of a right winger than full back.

Lappin 4/10 - Sadly,thought he was wretched. Defensively he lost his man and gave way too much time (goal came thought him losing his man who crossed unopposed). He sliced the ball several times and seemed unable to do even do the basics such as a simple pass or piece of control. Not a good debut.

Maguire 6.5/10 – Steady enough game. Nearly gave a penalty away at one point but then made an excellent late tackle to deny Clarke. He was better than he has been at times this season and cannot recall too many glaring mistakes.

Collins 6/10 – Thought he was slow at times and did not always react to danger. He gave away a few unnecessary corners or fouls. He did improve in the second half as the whole defence seemed to make a conscious effort to push up win more and he started to win tackles/headers.

Doyle 6/10 – Once again sure he will be criticised and yes he did give the ball away a few times or miscontrolled things but he did not hide and kept plugging away. He was only average but was not our worst player and as I say he kept looking for the ball and one of the few that put his foot in.

Baxter 6/10 – Flitted in and out of the game. He shows some nice touches at times but the game bypasses him for long stretches too and he needs to be more involved. His set plays and crosses were a mixed bag too and he needs to be more consistent in all phases of his game.

Cuvelier – Quite anonymous for the first half hour or so he played as Crawley dominated the midfield winning all the loose balls. We improved after he limped off as Coady gave us a bit of bite and forward thinking play. Not seen anything at all from Cuvelier to impress me other than some fans comments of ‘he was good on loan at Walsall.’

Hall 5/10 – Poor tonight I felt. He did not get much service but felt he did not get on the ball much or show enough desire. Game kind of floated by and barely recall him having many touches as all the United side disappointed first half. He went off on the hour which was not a surprise but at that point any one of eleven could have had the hook.

Brandy 6.5/10- He tried to get on the ball and tried to carry the fight but had little service and when he did have the ball his runs often petered out. At least he did try and have a go and was one of the few to carry the ball forward and try and turn defenders. I still feel an end product in terms of a decent cross, pass or shot is lacking in most cases but then he did provide the pass for the King goal so at least we had an assist tonight.

King 7/10 – He had little to no service all game and was playing up front on his owns starved of crosses, passes or anything really. A few times it stuck whilst a few times the ball shot away. He did take his goal really well and at times looked like he could be the battering ram we needed with others feeding off him but he needs to get fitter.


Coady 6.5/10 – Thought he did quite well and looked like he cared as he got on the ball, made a few forward passes and had a few shots. Not scintillating but at least showed some desire and forward thinking play. Had a few efforts and tried to get in the last third.

Taylor – He ran around a lot and just by being there he meant we had at least two up front. In his play he was weak and so many times the defender won headers with barely a challenge put on him. He needs to show more strength and determination. Had one weak shot wide and looks no closer to scoring but that is as much the service and tactics as his forlorn play. However he did put effort in and by just being busy and helping King we got more chances.

Murphy – Came on at the end and had one shot that never looked like going in turned round the post by Weir.

Weir rating 3/10 – Still not good. First half he was closer to 0/10 as the same slow, pedestrian and unthreatening football led to no chances, us giving the ball away and losing a sloppy goal. We could have let more in. It was dire and the crowd gave him full barrels at half time.

Second half was better as we showed more urgency. We had to. We finally changed things somewhat with 2 up top and got a goal. I would have liked more width and more attacking threat after this but it all became a bit narrow and scrappy and we never looked like blowing the house down and it kind of just frittered out to a stalemate despite us looking the more convincing.

It is a frank admission of how bad we are that a point at home v Crawley probably keeps him in a job for another few weeks but I still saw no real tangible sign of improvements as players mostly looked uncomfortable, lacking in confidence and belief that how they were told to play was going to work. I am still totally unconvinced that the way he has us playing; mixed with players mostly underperforming will see any immediate upturn and a point v Crawley with another so-so to poor performance says we are no nearer forward. The fact we did not lose for the 7th game was seen as something positive when in isolation it is another unacceptable performance and result.

Officials – Referee: Paul Tierney. Fine. He booked McMahon and Sadler for handbags, and booked a couple of other Crawley players for niggly fouls. In overall play we continually shouted for handballs but I did not think any were that convincing and many were hit at them from close range. He maybe did not stamp out on some blatant time wasting but overall I cannot say he affected anything of note all game.

Crowd/Atmosphere – 15,401 was more than I thought was in the Lane. Crawley brought a hundred at best but there seemed less in overall I felt than the announced crowd. First half saw a number of negative groans and moans as the performance sadly merited. The boos at half times suggested he had a half to save his job. We were better second half and the goal and more effort and at least some kind of attacks in the last third saw a more positive response but still felt many were less than happy by.