The Blades edge out the victory after a fine goal from Kitson to leave Town empty-handed
Town: Chris Weale, Cameron Gayle, Joe Jacobson, Darren Jones, Yado Mambo, Jon Taylor (Summerfield, 46), Matt Richards (c) Dave McAllister, Steve McGinn, Ryan Doble (Bradshaw, 63), Paul Parry
Subs: Joe Anyon, Connor Goldson, Aaron Wildig, Luke Summerfield, Tom Bradshaw, Rob Purdie, Rob Edwards
Sheffield United: George Long, Danny Higginbotham, Harry Maguire, Ryan Flynn, Michael Doyle (c), Kevin McDonald, Dave Kitson (Ironside, 90), Neill Collins, Jonathan Forte, Jamie Murphy (Robson, 76), Tony McMahon
Subs: Darryl Westlake, Matthew Hill, Barry Robson, Joe Ironside, Callum McFadzean, Danny Coyne, Diego De Girolamo
Referee: M. Heywood
Assistants: M. Wilkes & M. Salisbury
Fourth Official: A. Scregg
Attendance: 7,232 (1,422 from Sheffield)
Martin Wild reports from Greenhous Meadow
Graham Turner is forced into changes for this home game against Danny Wilson’s Blades. Top scorer Marvin Morgan is absent through injury and that opens the door for Ryan Doble to make a rare start up front.
Luke Rodgers is also missing from the eighteen and Paul Parry gets an opportunity to shine from the off after a fine second half showing at Deepdale last week. Shrewsbury will be looking for their first back-to-back victories of the campaign in the clash of the draw specialists. No side in League One has drawn more than these two sides - they have shared the spoils 25 times between them.
Dave McAllister almost got Doble in behind a flat footed away defence on five minutes but the flag was raised quickly on the near side and the striker making his first start for Town rattled the post in any event. But it was a typically purposeful run from the midfielder whose goal settled the corresponding game in United’s favour on the opening day.
There was a smashing atmosphere inside the Greenhous with the away stand packed out and the home supporters in full voice.
Just before the quarter hour mark Jonathan Forte tried his luck with an angled drive and although the effort didn’t trouble Chris Weale in the Town goal, it wasn’t that far away. It was end to end stuff with enough craft on show to suggest we were in for a decent afternoon’s entertainment.
Skipper Michael Doyle then went close for the Yorkshire side forcing Weale into a fine save high to his right to keep out his 25 yarder after decent enterprise down the left from Jamie Murphy.
United have only two points to show from their last five outings but are still in contention as they occupied the last play-off position coming into this game. But Town are unbeaten here in three months and are keen to add another big scalp having already landed league ‘doubles’ over both Coventry and Preston.
Sheffield were having a decent spell and Weale had to be brave as a lion to deny Ryan Flynn on 25 as the number 7 jinked his way into the danger zone, and then Shrews had a huge let off when Darren Jones got the wrong side of Forte and was fortunate not to concede the pen when the two tangled legs in the area.
Town needed a spell with the ball just to stem the tide a little and they weren’t helped by the referee who pulled play back for treatment to a United player with the hosts in possession and Doble bearing down on goal.
But it was that man Weale who was called into action just passed the half hour when he made a magnificent save by the base of his post to deny Tony McMahon from a well struck free kick. From the corner Dave Kitson headed powerfully straight at Weale who was enjoying his birthday outing so far – the Town stopper turned 31 today.
A season’s high attendance of 7,232 was announced with over 1,400 having made the journey from the White Rose County.
Two minutes of additional minutes passed without incident and the teams went in on level terms.
Half Time: Town 0 Sheffield United 0
Jon Taylor picked up a knock late in the first half which required treatment and he failed to reappear for the second. Luke Summerfield was the man sent on to take his place.
Summerfield proved his worth by being perfectly positioned on an upright to head clear from Kitson’s nod towards goal from a corner, and Murphy fizzed a shot marginally wide as the Blades came out all guns blazing.
The swanky new scoreboard away to our right had still to register its first goal but there had been plenty of efforts although George Long in the visitor’s goal had yet to lay a decent glove on the ball.
Doble was taken off with Tom Bradshaw introduced on 63 minutes and within seconds the away team had taken the lead. Weale made an incredible reflex stop to deny Forte at his near post from a matter of yards and as a Town defender looked to hoof clear the danger, the ball struck an unsuspecting Doyle and ricocheted back into the net. That might have been a cruel way to concede but Sheffield had been banging on the door – and rather loudly – for a time or two and were decent value for their lead.
Town looked to respond quickly and from a free-kick the ball looped high in the air and was eventually cleared with Kitson left grounded and the referee incurring the wrath of the home supporters by stopping play. To be fair to Mr. Haywood he had little option but to apply the rules of the game with Kitson down and clutching his head. Mind you, the striker was soon enough back on his feet which did little to lighten the mood of the somewhat suspicious Town fans.
Kitson’s miraculous recovery took on a new dimension when he strode forward on 71 minutes to blast in a left footer from fully 25 yards plum into the corner to effectively end the contest. Town weren’t carrying much threat higher up the field and despite their honest endeavours, they had been distinctly second best up to this point.
A yellow card was waved in the direction of Jones although only the referee could know why – the defender’s tackle on Robson was perfectly timed and the ball moved in an alternative direction as if to emphasise it was won clearly.
Forte sprang clear with five to play and opened his body looking for the far corner having shown Matt Richards a clean pair of heels. But Weale made the target look smaller than it was and the striker bent the shot wide of the back stick.
Undoubtedly, the Bramall Lane men deserved their lead here but it was dramatically halved with a couple of minutes left. Steve McGinn floated in a deep free kick and it was hard to see whether it took a touch off Jones or a Blades defender - or indeed any touch at all - as it found the corner with Long rooted to the spot.
The fans sensed a comeback but it was a mountainous ask. Four minutes of added on time were indicated but Town couldn’t fashion any more chances and they lost for just the fourth time here this season.
Full Time: Town 1 Sheffield United 2