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Player Match Ratings: Sharp Blades stunned by Villa!

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John

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This was an unbelievable, outstanding, incredible, amazing, astonishing, sensational, surprising, unexpected, remarkable, dramatic and thrilling comeback!

With eight minutes of normal time remaining Sheffield United were temporarily on top of the league and were a seemingly comfortable three goals ahead. By the end of the game that lead had disappeared before their very eyes, their promotion hopes had been blunted, and they found themselves shell shocked and sitting back in third place where they had been at the start of this astounding game.    

Our visitors bossed the first half on our own patch. They picked up where they had left off at Bramall Lane 5 months earlier and showed how much they wanted to finish the game in top spot by dominating the early stages of the game. We were caught on the back foot and had looked a very poor second best. 

This extraordinary result was achieved despite the match officials showing that they could match Mr Magoo and Arsene Wenger by not seeing that Sharp was offside when Dowell hit the ball in the build up to their second goal before compounding that error by not noticing that he had gone on to kick the ball out of Kalinic’s hands. That goal had been allowed when we were threatening to get back into the game and looked to have extinguished our hopes as did later decisions to ignore late penalty appeals by Mings and McGinn, but we were determined not to be denied by inept officiating.  

This exhilarating late, late show admittedly only earned us a point, but this outstanding comeback showed both resilience and character. We might yet look back on this night, on which we snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat as a turning point in our season. It could possibly have as positive an impact on our remaining games as it threatens to have a negative effect on our visitor’s promotion chances. Stranger things have happened, this comeback being just one example. We just need to play for the whole of each game like we did at the end of this one from now onwards!

My player ratings from a game that took us within one win off the final play-off spot are:

Lovre Kalinic – 5 – Dived to his left on 5 minutes to block a Baldock shot from the edge of the box. Could only parry Dowell’s 53rd minute shot from outside of the area onto Madine’s head. His header struck the far post and Sharp kicked the ball into the net and out of Lovre’s grasp for his second. Gathered a 77th minute McGoldrick shot from just inside the left edge of the box at the second attempt.   

Alan Hutton – 5 – Picked up a loose attempted headed clearance just outside the box on 56 minutes but his shot went harmlessly over the bar. Sharp peeled off Hutton to head home a 62nd minute Dowell cross but sometimes a hat-trick is not quite enough!         

Tommy Elphick - 6 – Made a good challenge on Madine as he looked to turn in a 51st minute Baldock cross. Solid alongside Tyrone.    

Tyrone Mings – 8 – MOTM – Silenced his vocal critics from South Yorkshire with a towering performance and what had appeared to have been a late nicely headed consolation goal from an 82nd minute Hourihane corner. Pulled down by Basham as he made ground inside the box to reach the ball, but his penalty appeal was ignored by the referee. Comfortable on the ball and played the ball out of defence very well.             

Neil Taylor – 4 – Made Baldock look like the Brazilian Cafu at times on a night for him to forget. Not a great exhibition of defending again.              

Mile Jedinak – 4 – Unsurprisingly looked short of pace on his return to the starting line-up.                

John McGinn – 6 – Screwed a shot wide from the edge of the area on 83 minutes. Held by Stevens on 93 minutes as he looked to reach a ball played into the box by Hourihane, but his penalty appeals fell on deaf ears. Worked hard as usual.

Conor Hourihane – 5 – Hit a 71st minute free kick from the edge of the box that Henderson parried away. Not contributing much other than his undoubted dead ball prowess.     

Anwar El Ghazi – 5 – Nice to see him tracking back a bit. Still lacking the end product that he produced at WBA though.       

Jonathan Kodjia – 5 – Some nice touches and looked keen to be involved at times prior to his substitution.           

Tammy Abraham – 7 – He had drifted well behind the goal line as the corner came over for their first, so he was unable to prevent the ball going over the line when Sharp put in Madine’s far post header back across goal. Elphick hit a shot from the left of the area that Henderson didn’t hold and instead pushed into Tammy’s path at the far post with the inevitable consequences on 86 minutes (goal number 20!). Didn’t enjoy a lot of service but worked hard and his late goal sparked what had seemed fanciful hopes of a draw.    

Substitutes:

Andre Green - 6 – Replaced Kodjia on 65 minutes and completed our remarkable comeback with a sweet far post header from a McGinn cross on 94 minutes. Worth a start in my opinion.     

Glenn Whelan – 6 - Came on for Jedinak on 66 minutes and made a difference to the game.

   

Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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