Top two Share The Spoils

Last updated : 19 February 2017 By deadbat_db

In truth, the home side dominated large periods of the game and in the first half were particularly dominant but a plucky Iron came away with a point. Indeed the visitors took the lead against the run of play thanks to Paddy Madden’s opportunistic strike but parity was restored almost instantly as the division’s leading scorer Billy Sharp scored a similar poachers effort. A red card for Harry Toffolo soon after gave the Blades over half an hour to get the winner but despite continuing to dominate the elusive goal eluded them. At the end Scunthorpe nearly won it with Madden crashing off the post before O’Shea curled an effort off the inside of the post soon after. It was end to end stuff at the death as both teams went for the winner. In the end the results ensured it was status quo at the top of the division.

United managed Chris Wilder opted to bring back his big guns after resting players in the week and back came Billy Sharp, Kieron Freeman, Mark Duffy and also James Hanson. Jay O’Shea, Matt Done, Caolan Lavery and Joe Riley were back on the bench joining Samir Carruthers and Ethan Ebanks Landell.

Scunthorpe went with a tried and trusted pairing up top with Paddy Madden partnering Kevin Van Veen with relative newcomers Craig Davies and Ivan Toney on the bench.

United started the game on the offensive and were pressing high up the field instantly. An early chance came when Lafferty got into the box and despite some contact opted to carry on as he evaded his man. His cross found Sharp who fired over. All the early possession was with the home side with Fleck biting into challenges and Basham and O’Connell dominating the ball when it came back. A great chance came when Sharp played in Duffy and well placed he shot wide. It was a really good chance. Toffolo was booked for a cynical foul on Freeman and then another poor challenge from Scunthorpe saw a foul on Sharp. They were struggling to stem the tide and were resorting to pull back and fouls.

United kept coming at Scunthorpe. Duffy and Coutts played some lovely pieces of play and both Freeman and Lafferty were getting on the ball. Scunthorpe seemed startled by the aggressive play on and off the ball and simply had no answer for wave after wave of United attack. One cross from the left saw Hanson get up and head downwards but Daniels tipped away at full length. It really was complete domination with a rare shot from Dawson well wide the only riposte from the visitors.

Both sets of players seemed confused by a referee who despite having premier league experience at times let things go but then became incredibly fussy. It seemed hard to know what he would do next although he booked Van Veen for another crude foul. O’Connell headed wide before Crookes clattered Wright; maybe the worst foul of the lot but somehow escaped censure.

Good work from Freeman saw the ball come in and Wallace flicked it away from the waiting Sharp. Then Hanson linked well but Duffy was crowded out. United won a series of free kicks but could not test Daniels again until a routine save just before the half time whistle from a flicked Hanson header.

The second half saw Scunthorpe come out with a renewed sense of purpose and got into the United third for more than a fleeting moment which had not happened first half. Poor play saw United fail to stop the ball going down the right and Dawson hit a low cross that got a slight deflection as United’s defence failed to mark up and MADDEN slotted home to lead to jubilant scenes behind the goal.

United were stunned but they came back instantly. Freeman was involved as he had been all afternoon and got down the right and crossed. Fleck and Hanson helped the ball back and it fell invitingly for SHARP to smash home from close range.

Soon after an action packed half had another twist as Freeman was badly baulked by Toffolo who had been booked already and committed a further two fouls. It was a blatant block off and an easy second yellow for Jones. Untied senses a big opportunity now. Fleck had two shots blocked and then a Freeman cross evaded everyone. Fleck had a better effort that whistled just over before Lafferty drilled wide. United were still in control and dominating the ball but were not creating clear cut chances. Duffy frustrated with his final ball twice and then Freeman played it too close to the keeper. Scunthorpe had a further two go into the referee’s book as he continued to make sure he knew everyone he was there!

Scunthorpe had been able to keep United to long range efforts so Wilder made changes with Lavery on for Hanson and then O’Shea for Lafferty.

Lavery had a chance blocked after neat work in the build up to bring down a difficult high ball. From the corner the ball ricocheted across goal and Sharp toe poked agonisingly wide.

Coutts and Duffy were both booked for United for tired tackles. Despite it being the home side pressing for the winner, Scunthorpe broke after a give-away and substitute Mantom got down the flank and squared but Madden thumped a close-range finish off the post. A huge let off for United in what would have been a crushing blow in game they had dominated.

Still the chances were not finished and a lovely flowing move saw Freeman, Lavery and Fleck combine to play in O’Shea. He hit a curling right foot shot that beat Daniels all end up and as the crowd held their breath the ball hit the inside of the post and bounced back into the hands of the relieved keeper.

The referee had deemed there would be an additional five minutes of stoppage time just before this chance but after this drama there were no other moments of note despite some comical defending from United in the corner that nearly gifted Scunthorpe another late chance the game ended with honours even.