Leon Clarke scored his first goal since January 1st and United were full value for this lead and really should have put the game to bed missing numerous chances. Despite this, Cardiff did not create much and it seemed the Blades were heading back into the top 6 before a late free kick fell to sub Anthony Pilkington who drove home from the angle. It was a desperately disappointing late blow and a real sickener for the home side who had out played a side that had won 8 straight games before tonight.
The game went ahead despite some awful weather conditions in the day with snow and then torrential rain but the ground staff had done a great job in ensuring the pitch was playable. Despite the weather and the game being on Sky, there was still a healthy crowd inside the Lane when kick off arrived.
Manager Wilder opted to give David Brooks a start alongside Leon Clarke and Lee Evans was back in, with Billy Sharp and Ryan Leonard reverting back to the bench. Cardiff had a three pronged attack of Zohore, Mendez Laing and Hoillet and noticeable started a side that featured a great deal of height and physique when the teams lined up before kick-off.
United began with a good early chance when the ball came over and Lundstram headed straight at Etheridge. It was a good chance and he should have done better. United then enjoyed a good spell of possession; Baldock, Clarke and then Evans were involved with the latter firing over. Basham and Baldock then worked an opening down the right and it led to a corner. Cardiff gradually came back into it and Grujic had a shot fired in that deflected off Zohore. Cardiff started to have a better spell and won a corner before another tame effort was saved by Moore.
United broke out from this spell and started to take control again. Fleck played in Stevens and his ball evaded everyone. The goal was not long coming though and neat work from Evans and Lundstram played in CLARKE who turned and hit a shot that deflected off a defender and nestled into the corner. It was a welcome moment for the striker whose barren spell was finally over.
A second goal almost came soon after as lovely play saw the ball switched to he left and then Clarke played a delightful ball inside the full back. Stevens hit a cross in and it just evaded Brooks. United then had another good chance. A corner came over and Stearman headed it towards goal but it was headed off the line by Bennett. Lundstram then had a chance when Clarke teed it up and curled an effort just wide.
The half time whistle came soon after. It had been a very good United performance and a deserved lead.
Madine came on for Mendez Laing and it was clear Warnock’s plan was to go even longer. So far, long throws and percentage stuff had been the sum of their efforts and more pumped long balls came in early in this half.
Fleck then drove forward and played in Evans on the angle but a last ditch save from Etheridge denied him as he shaped to shoot. Gunnarson then cut in for Cardiff and drove a low shot not far wide. Zohore then pulled away and got away from Stearman and Basham and drove a shot goalwards that Moore tipped over.
United came out and Lundstram then drove over after more good work from Fleck and then Stevens in the build-up. Baldock then drove forward down the other wide and Basham was released winning a corner. United continued to attack and Fleck was influential all over the field surging forward and had one effort saved from Etheridge. Brooks then had a shot saved after coming in on the angle after a good run; but it was not long before he was replaced by Donaldson.
United won a series of free kicks after more good build up and a second successive quick one saw Fleck play in Stevens and his low cross was hit against the post from Donaldson. United continued to attack and despite Cardiff making a double change. The home side looked more likely to get another goal.
Clarke had an effort saved from Etheridge and Evans had an appeal for a penalty turned away. Leonard came on for Lundstram and then Stearman had to hobble off and was replaced by Wright. United looked like they had done enough as the game approached the final stages. The referee opted to play four minutes of stoppage time and in the first of these played Donaldson gave a free kick away. The ball came over and Madine won the header and the ball dropped to PILKINGTON who fired home on the angle despite Moore getting his hand to the ball. It was a desperate blow for the home side but the away side celebrated like it was a winner. They had deserved nothing from the game but had grabbed a point somehow.