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Thread: Blackburn 0 United 2 - report

  1. #1

    Blackburn 0 United 2 - report

    View from the sofa / red button….
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    The Blades went up to third and pulled level on points with Leeds and Middlesboro after ending Blackburn’s long unbeaten record at Ewood Park. The home side had not lost on its own ground since September 2017 but United deservedly won in another excellent and in the end comfortable performance. The Blackburn keeper made several good saves and United created all the chances in the game. They should have led at half time but then 2nd half got in front thanks to skipper Billy Sharp scoring at the second attempt after good work from David McGoldrick. The second goal came when Enda Stevens inviting cross was nodded home by Sharp at the back post. United saw out any comeback from Rovers with relative ease with keeper Dean Henderson only making one routine save all night and this came in the 85th minute.

    Manager Chris Wilder opted against making chances an picked the same side that beat Millwall on the road. Blackburn featured the dangerous Bradley Dack and an impressive home record to boot and had made an impressive start to their return to the Championship.

    United started well and had all of the early ball. Norwood was instrumental in most of the play and McGoldrick looked lively. The striker moved into space and looked to play Sharp in but his partner took too long and was crowded out. United won 3 early corners and from one pre planned routine, the short corner was miskicked by Sharp. A few others were scrambled clear. Rovers had not really been in the game and Dack was well marshalled by United and the aerial ball was being won by the Blades defence. United continued to control things and had a good chance when Duffy came into the channel and hit a powerful shot well saved by Raya.

    Sharp then had a header flicked off target before Blackburn had a half chance and Dack had a deflected effort go behind for a corner. United came back onto the attack soon after and regained control and the home side were struggling to pick up players and contend with the United formation. A corner came over and O’Connell had a header saved and then the rebound was cleared away. Not long after another decent move saw Fleck hit a powerful shot that was well saved from the home keeper. Raya then saved an effort from McGoldrick. United had been by far the more dangerous side and had managed to have 3 or 4 decent openings if not golden chances but the keeper had made some decent saves. Blackburn had barely offered anything in response and a long range shot blocked by Evans was a rare opening coming just before the half time whistle.

    The second half saw the home side change personnel and formation. Mulgrew came on for Smallwood and Mowbray attempted to gain some control by matching up with 5 at the back and 3 in midfield. Rovers did have a spell of play and two headers from Dack and Armstrong went over after some sloppy play from United. However, the best effort came from the visitors soon after. The ball was moved about well and as it came across; Fleck had a great chances but his well struck effort was blocked right in front of goal and out for a corner.

    Graham had not been a factor and expensive new signing Ben Brereton came on in his place. The game had become a bit scrappy and Rovers had certainly had more of the game this half but neither side had really had any significant efforts on goal at this point as it moved over the hour mark.

    However, a decent move with Duffy and then Fleck involved saw the ball transferred over to the left and McGoldrick peeled off and sent over a lovely low cross begging to be finished. SHARP actually made a bit of a mess of the first chance as he hit it straight at the keeper but then quickly reacted and tucked away the rebound. A typical classic poachers goal from Sharp. With the deadlock broken, United then started to dominate again. Fleck was causing problems with his running and McGoldrick’s intelligent hold up play was causing problems too.

    Rothwell came on for Bell in the final change for Rovers who had struggled to cause United many problems all game. Although just before the change Brereton had their best chance as he got into a good area but headed well over when he really should have forced Henderson into work.

    There were loud cheers from the visiting fans as Paul Coutts finally came back into the fray replacing Duffy. He moved into the centre of the field and his touch and composure was shown immediately as he linked with Norwood. Good work from Freeman and Basham saw off threats down the left and then soon after the second goal came.

    It came from patient build up and then the ball was played down the left and Stevens sent over a superb deep cross that SHARP got on the end of, to nod down and in. He celebrated wildly in front of the jubilant United fans.

    Stevens was the first player booked for a late foul as Rovers broke away through Bennett. Clarke replaced the scorer soon after and then finally Blackburn had a shot on goal as Armstrong stung the palms of Henderson. The final chance came when Washington replaced McGoldrick as United looked for some fresh legs for the final stages. The substitute then got in on goal as United broke and Fleck played him in but Washington’s effort was saved. He probably should have scored as he was one on one; albeit on the angle. The game went into 4 minutes of stoppage time and other than a late Blackburn corner, the only action was Bennett getting a booking for a late tackle and then O’Connell getting likewise for pushing the defender away after words were exchanged. The final whistle came and United celebrated their third win on the bounce and another solid performance and pleasingly a clean sheet.

    United – Keep this brief. We were excellent again. We controlled the game almost from start to finish. Scored two good goals that were both well made and finished. We had other chances and restricted them to barely an effort all night. The defence was solid, the midfield composed and neat and tody and the front two looked dangerous. We did not create tons of chances but created far more than them and in the end saw out the game very comfortably against a side that has been doing well and have a very long unbeaten home record. We look a confident side and I am gla

    We dominated the first half and it was very much like the games at Millwall and Bristol City. We had chances, maybe not clear ones but 3 or 4 saves the keeper made. We had efforts from shots and headers and on another day it would have been 1 or 2-0 at half time. They were not in the game at all. Recall a few deflected efforts but nothing close to being on target.

    After the break, we did drop off a bit and they had some more of the ball but only recall a few headed efforts. We were not quite as controlled as we had been but then Fleck still had the best chance. After we scored; they had one header but other than that cant recall much at all. We started to get on the ball again; scored a second and then saw it out easily. It was a really solid performance and individually and collectively we made Blackburn look very poor. Maybe they had an off night but then so do a fair few teams against us recently- I think we are making teams look poor. We are out footballing most opponents at the moment and if we can cut out silly moments of madness (we did tonight) we know we have goals in the team and Sharp is on fire at the moment.

    Nice to be right at the top – also pleasing all the other games were draws as this helps including the remarkable throwaway from our city rivals. Glad not to be right at the top as when that happened a few times last season then we started getting talked about and did not stay there for long! Saturday is a real banana skin. Hull are poor and the manager is someone who looks like a yesterdays man but we have to be at it. We do not want another Birmingham. If we keep to the standards we should win and that would be a great way to go into the international break. Might be a few tired legs with us having a day less in terms of rest but not sure even tonight we had to exert ourselves too much. The crowd can help on Saturday as we look to carry on the excellent form. A clean sheet is nice as we have been shipping goals and the defence on the whole was excellent tonight against a team that has scored a lot of goals at home. Really pleased with United at the moment. We are quietly going about our business and winning games with some assured performance. Long may it continue. Just hope we keep everyone fit as with this eleven and Coutts, Clarke waiting to get back in; it looks really good.

  2. #2
    Blackburn – Just never really in it. They never got the measure of our formation or our shape and seemed unable to get any control. Key men Dack and Graham were peripheral figures and got crowded out. They had one shot on goal all game and other than a few deflected efforts and headers but cannot say they deserved anything from the game. They did not have the zip and vigour I have seen in other games they have played and just looked flat but we have to give credit to United. Interesting that in his programme notes Mowbray said he had watched us and knew our strengths and talked about the wing backs and advancing centre backs but then when it came to it they did not know how to counter us at all.

    It shows that they will not have had many games where the away team controlled the ball for such long spells. They have had a good start and I am sure they will finish around mid table; maybe just below in my opinion but today they were well beaten.

    Opponent man of the match – Maybe Armstrong as he had one shot and a few other decent runs but other than the goalkeeper Raya was maybe the stand out in a game where no one stood out.

    Weak link – Most of the Blackburn side were disappointing so take your pick from 8 or 9. Dack showed bits but was ineffective and Graham was not in the game at all. I felt the three lads in midfield never really got on the ball and Smallwood went off but not sure how Reed was name the home teams man of the match! Evans a player I like was also disappointing. The two wing/full backs struggled to close down space or our players too. Watched the lad Lenighan who we were linked with quite a lot and he looked quite suspect and lost our front two in terms of basic marking a few times.

    Henderson 7/10 – Relatively untroubled really. He only made one fairly routine save all night. One deflected effort wide and then a header went over when their lad ought to have done better. As the game sort of petered out, his handling and general play was fine. Seems really confident at the moment.

    Freeman 7/10 – Thought he was fine. He used it well when he had it and defended sensibly. Used it well when he could got forward all night. Just really busy and coped with a tricky opponent in Armstrong who kept coming onto his side. He dealt with the threat fairly well and even though he got away from him once; he generally won this battle.

    Stevens 7/10 – He was decent again tonight. He defended quite well and used it well in terms of passing and link play. A few times he switched off a bit and was caught ball watching but then he got forward and sent over a great cross that led to the clinching goal. Second big assist in the last few weeks to help us score crucial goals. Picked up a booking for a clumsy foul.

    Egan 8/10 – Dominated Graham all night who barely won a header. He came onto the ball, was first to it and never gave him a sniff. Looked a really commanding centre back tonight and his passing was good also even when he was under pressure a few times. Only negative was Bereton seemed to peel off him and Basham for the decent headed chance.

    O’Connell 7.5/10 – Solid performance. He did the nitty gritty and got his foot in when he could. Missed a good headed chance when he went forward for a corner in the first half. Second half he continued to just do the basics and help nullify them to few chances at all. Daft booking at the end. No need to get involved when he raised his hands to push the lad away.

    Basham 8/10 – Excellent. Careering forward all game. Showed some great nifty footwork and was able to make those trademark surges. He got into some tight spots but got out of them with lovely skill. Second half read the play well to get in and intercept a few times and looked very accomplished. Remarkably consistent week in, week out. Dack played around his area a lot of the game and I felt him and the other midfielders played him really well and he had a relatively ineffective game and had to come deep a lot.

    Fleck 8/10 – Back to his best standards and our best midfielder. He had some of those typical surging runs where he drops the shoulder or comes inside and runs at players. Set us on the attack several times with these runs. Had a few good attempts on goal too and unlucky not to get a goal. Involved in the first goal. He got us on the front foot all evening. Funny how his direct opponent, the ginger lad Reed was given man of the match when Fleck kept going past him time after time.

    Norwood 7.5/10 – Just kept the team ticking over. Got on the ball and controlled play. He was able to move it side to side and bring others into play. Maybe not too many adventurous passes but he just gets it and moves it on and often at speed. His set plays had variety and we had a few half chances from them but he did overhit one or two. He is just a very good footballer that is so comfortable in possession. Seeing him and Coutts together is a mouth watering prospect.

    Duffy 7/10 – I actually thought things he tried tonight did not quite come off but he kept going and never stopped trying to go forward. A few times he lost it and they came forward but despite this and his touch not quite being at the normal level, you always sensed things may happen. He was involved in both goals in terms of passes in the build-up. Even when he just not quite at it; like tonight, he still looks a threat.

    Sharp 8/10 – Not in the game that much and slow to react to a decent ball from McGoldrick first half and then hit a shot against his own foot from a clever short corner. Second half not really in the game and caught offside and then bang, bang. Got in a great position and although the keeper made a good save, he followed up superbly to convert. The second goal was classic Sharp; peeling off at the back stick and nodding down and in. Well on track already to beat last season’s tally.

    McGoldrick 7.5/10 – Another performance full of intelligent hold up, link play and some nice touches. Quiet for spells and not everything came off but then when he comes alive looks a real threat. He set up the first goal with a lovely ball across the box and then linked well with Clarke on another occasion. A clever and skilful footballer who at the moment is key to a lot of our link play as he comes off deep and links with the excellent midfield we have.

    Subs –

    Coutts – Tremendous to have him back. He looked good too. Just showed the lovely little neat passes and flicks and combined well with Fleck and Norwood. Played in the centre of the three and Norwood moved a bit further to the right and Fleck on the left. What a trio with Duffy in the mix too. Exciting stuff. Just hope they can all stay fit. If they do there are not many better midfielders in the league.

    Clarke – Came on and flicked a few on and nearly got in when McGoldrick played a ball across after Clarke had done well initially. Still looks quite languid for someone who should be fresh but that is just his style.

    Washington – Ran around in the short spell he was on and chased a few balls and took one into the corner. Did have an excellent chance to make it 3 but the keeper saved. Should have scored really.


    Wilder 8/10 – Kept the same side and rightly so. We have a break after Saturday and now need one big push from the same set of lads. Tonight, we started well, played well all game and other than a brief spell where we dropped off a bit; we did everything we needed to. A perfect away performance. Coutts came on and played well too – glad he is being slowly brought back in. It seems it wont be long before he starts games but the team is playing so well he can be eased back in.

    Referee – Fine actually. He was the opposite of some recent refs who could not wait to book people and only towards the end did he book a few. He let play go on and not sure there were any contentious moments at all.

  3. #3
    I thought Freeman was alot better than fine DB,good goin forard and very good defensively,i also thought the much maligned Enda Stevens had a very good game and his cross for billy's 2nd was beautiful and beggin to be nodded in.Both wing backs get a 8 from me.I agree re;FLECKY,good solid performance well done to all concerned.UTCB

  4. #4
    Manager deserves credit for keeping with the same team. Same again please on Saturday.

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