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Thread: United 2 Forest 0 - report

  1. #1
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    United 2 Forest 0 - report

    The Blades got back to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest at Bramall Lane. This coupled with Leeds shock defeat at home to Wigan means United now have things back in their own hands in the promotion race. United were still not at their best but improved from a drab first half to up the tempo and after a red card to Yohan Benalouane for a trip on David McGoldrick, they took the lead thanks to a great goal from Mark Duffy. United then did go for the second but did not get in and had a nervous spell for 20 minutes before a great breakaway saw the games two outstanding players combine. McGoldrick played in Stevens who slotted home superbly on the overlap to kill the game.

    Wilder made the expected changes with Cranie and Stearman in for the injured Basham and suspended Egan. Baldock was back in for Freeman at right wing back. Madine got the nod over Hogan to partner McGoldrick. Martin O’Neill had made several changes in recent games with Forest’s season effectively over and he did that again leaving out several normal first teamers as he attempted to halt a terrible run of form.

    The game began with United seeing most of the ball but in the early stages they were guilty of going a bit long and Madine was hit too much wit the aerial ball. Stevens was busy down the left but chances were limited with Norwood with a quick free kick the closest but an easy save for Pantilimon. Cash was hurling in a few long throws and Yacob had a wild effort for Forest who were largely content to sit back.

    On 20 minutes Colback came inside but referee Madley felt he dived as he went to ground as Duffy was closest to him and booked the Forest man – this effectively ended his time at Forest as he now faces a three-match ban. United came out and Madine just missed Stevens driven cross. United then had a spell with a lot of the ball but did not hurt Forest. The best effort came from a ball across and McGoldrick headed back across and Madine could not quite head it back goalwards.

    Forest had a rare chance when Duffy lost the ball and Murphy was in but with men getting back opted to shoot early and it was wide with Henderson probably having it covered. Byram then was booked for a foul as he tripped McGoldrick after Forest gave the ball away cheaply. United tried a clever one, playing it down the side of the wall but the cross just evaded a United player in the box and was cleared for a corner. Cranie then was booked after a mix up at the back but Forest did not cause any discomfort in the box. The half time whistle came after four minutes of stoppage time.

    The second half saw United start immediately at a better tempo and Duffy was involved early on linking with Baldock and then McGoldrick as Forest were pushed back. Then a Fleck tackle after Pele fell over saw him feed McGoldrick who skipped away and went away from Benalouane who seemed to bring him down as the striker tried to hurdle him. The referee brandished a red card immediately feeling the cover would not have got round and he was the last man. Milosevic came on for Gomes but the opening goal came a minute later.

    The ball came across from Norwood and after it was not cleared, it dropped for DUFFY who took a touch and then curled a delightful effort into the corner of the goal past the despairing dive of Pantilimon. The noise and relief was palpable around the ground as the ***** breakthrough came.

    United were pushed forward by Wilder after the regression following the opener last week and nearly got a second soon after. Colback was lucky not to get another yellow card following a poor foul but the pressure kept coming. More good play from Duffy who jinked past Colback and played it across and McGoldrick toed it goalwards but Pantilimon made a tremendous save to turn it behind. Baldock got in a few times but took too long to make his decision but his energy was causing problems for the side with ten men.

    Duffy was now really running things although his effort that was tipped over was probably a cross and was turned behind. Norwood then drove wide from a decent position as United turned the screw. Grabban was on for Murphy and then Madine came off for Hogan just after the hour as both teams changed strikers. United started to become a bit scrappy and lost the ball a few times and started to sit back more. Baldock gave away a handball as he got tangled up in a defensive position but Cash’s effort went further away than went it started. Forest won a few corners and Henderson had to punch clear as the crowd started to look at the clock conscious of what happened the previous week. Lundstram came on for Cranie as United went to a flat back four for the final stages of the game. Appiah replaced Yacob.

    Forest had not really threatened too much but it was a concern United were going back deeper and therefore such a relief with five minutes to go, the Blades made it save. Fleck had made some good tackles and interceptions and made another one to win the ball. McGoldrick advanced and at the perfect moment found the streaking STEVENS who had ran the entire half. The wing back hit a low shot right into the far corner giving the keeper no chance and another huge roar erupted around the

    After the goal Duffy left to applause from all sides of the Lane as Dowell came on to replace him. Forest looked a side ready for full time and the four minutes of stoppage time United saw things out professionally and kept the ball well to ensure they got the three points.

  2. #2
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    United – It’s a win and a better performance if not perfect but the three points were all important. With three key men missing, it was just ***** to get back to winning ways. Not great by any stretch of the imagination and at times we were still anxious and slow. We also sat back too deep for periods in the second half but we scored two goals, were more attacking and eventually played better football. I felt we were more like our normal self but not quite there…if that makes sense! First half it was a bit like last week – we were quite edgy and took too long to do things. We took too many touches and barely had an effort on goal. We were the better side against a poor Forest side but did not do enough to lead and even though we had a bit of a spell just before the break with a few half chances and then the free kick and a few corners etc. I felt we had to up it massively and too many players were just a bit off it (again). We needed several players to up it.

    After the break I felt that happened and the players played higher up the field and the wing backs got further forward but Duffy started to really penetrate and dictate. The red card helped us massively though and meant Forest had one less man to pack the defence and stop us trying to work through. We scored a wonder goal and then we went for the 2nd and McGoldrick was close to getting it. I felt we kept going forward but then when Madine went off, it seemed to disrupt us a bit and we lost the momentum and we started clock watching a bit. We sat back and Forest had a few moments but cannot recall too many clear chances at all but they got a few corners and free kicks. You worried they might nick a chance and then when Grabban came on, I was fearful something may drop but it didn’t. The second goal came at a great time though and that killed it. After that Forest gave up completely.

    I am not sure we were that great as I say. We certainly did some things better and at least we restricted the opponent to few openings but Forest are a poor side and are on the beach and have lost 5 straight. They did not really attack us much at all and not sure they had any belief they would get anything. The crowd for us were probably more worried than the crowd for Forest were hopeful! The players who came in did ok. I felt Duffy and Fleck improved after the break and we started to show some desire.

    The Leeds result was huge. I sat watching it nervously and Massey was superb as was the lad James. Even Clarke and Evans did ok. They defended heroically but Leeds did start getting anxious. The crowd were starting to panic and all the daft scarf twirling stopped completely. They have a few tricky games but I feel Brentford will be tougher than Villa. Think Villa will beat Millwall and almost be there for the playoffs and then they may rest a few. Today though Leeds looked like us last week. We now have it back in our hands. The reality is if we got in the playoffs, we would have to win probably 2 and draw 1 or win all 3. That is now what the season boils down to against two mid table sides and a team relegated. We have to go for it. Hull will be much more of a threat and have been scoring goals freely with two talents in Bowen and Grosicki. We have to improve from today to win that game. We play before Leeds in both games and if we win then the pressure is really on them at Griffin Park as to lose that or fail to win that they would be 2 or 3 behind with 2 to play and us having a chance to go 5 or 6 clears before they play after us again. Monday to me is so big. If we win this; I think we can do it; a week after I felt we had blown it. It is a really incredible race with both teams not exactly looking convincing.

    What a nervous few weeks it is going to be! I will be at Hull on Monday biting my nails and hope we can stick one against our former manager. Certainly, now though it seems it is going right to the wire.

    Nottingham Forest – Thought they were abject. They defended deep and with numbers and just tried to stop us going through them. They sent us wide but our crosses were really poor to be honest and they will feel they actually had the best chance when Murphy got through and shot wide first half but Henderson did not have a significant save to make all game. We were all panicking but not sure they ever looked like scoring. That free kick that went further wide than where it started summed them up. The fans were sarcastically cheering when they put a few passes together.

    Actually, first half they stayed in the game and defended well, covering and working hard but they did not do much when they had it. Lolley had a few good runs but they obviously have rotated the team round and are trying a few things. Nothing is really working as they keep losing. O’Neill (and Keane) have not really had an impact at all since they came in and they look further away from a playoff team now then when he went in – stats may show otherwise. After the red card and goal, they looked a bit of a mess but then they had a bit of a spell before we killed it. Overall though they were well beaten over the course of the game as we had more chances, shots on/off target, corners, possession and ultimately moments that count.

    Not sure of their identity. They have a few loan players in and some international players that cost a fair bit admittedly not many played today) and then Grabban is a decent striker also and I was glad he did not play. They have a big summer to kind of change things around a bit. They seem to keep changing their manager but it is not working. They have spent a fair bit actually when you look at the outlay on the players but it has not really gelled. Today they looked a team just waiting for the season to finish and complete contract to Millwall last week. The fact United struggled was as much down to us as them I felt.


    Opponent man of the match – Lolley. Not even close. Plays right hand side but comes onto his left. Good runner, decent on the ball and links play. Got a few tricks and runs in from the wing. Very good player. He tried hard but ultimately had little help. In the end he got tired and lost Stevens on the goal. Not sure anyone else really stood out.

    Weak link – Benalouane was a bit moronic to dive in and might have to take the award here. However, the lad Cash seemed to be like a special team taking the free kicks and long throws – either illegally as was the case with the latter. Also Pele in midfield was erm not like Pele. Colback was lucky to stay on the pitch and was out of depth in a full back position.

    Henderson 7/10 – Not sure he had much to do…saw a few shots come in nowhere near and a comfortable one. Did punch one corner away and got it but the distance was not great but we cleared it. His overall handling though was good. His scariest moment was when he slipped when trying to kick the ball away and everybody breathed a big sigh of relief!

    Baldock 7/10 – General play quite good. Only negatives were his silly booking for a stupid moment when he should have cleared originally and also a bit of dallying with Cranie (more his fault) that led to the booking for him. Outside of this he was good and got up and down and showed real energy. He was a constant threat second half. His final ball is still poor and he could have pulled the trigger on a shot or cross not long after we scored when his first bit of skill was superb to get him in. If he could work on his crossing/final ball could be an excellent player.

    Stevens 8/10 – Continued to be one of our best players. Even in the poorer run we have had, him and McGoldrick have kept their standards high. Close between him and Didsy for the man of the match but I actually would have given it Stevens. He put in several excellent balls first half and got in some good positions. Second half he kept moving forward and was not defending like he was last week. What he did, he did well against a tough opponent in Lolley who did get away from him a few times but he stuck at it and then at the end overpowered his man by simply running past him. Ran almost an entire half to then get on it and then showed great composure to finish superbly.

    Stearman 7/10 – Steady game. Limited Murphy firstly and then Grabban towards the end. Came onto the ball and was just nice and sensible/composed. He is a really good pro to come in and do a job. He was not pressured much by a poor Forest team who did not have much pace coming forward and did not attack in numbers but did what he had to. Will probably see Egan coming back in next game but great to have him there ready.

    O’Connell 7/10 – Decent defensively and got forward when he could. First half he did not attack too much and a bit more reserved but then he started bombing on and I felt second half was really getting into the opposition half. He got in a few good positions and once found himself on the right-hand side but would not trust his right foot. Won the key headers/tackles when it mattered and just did what he had to.

    Cranie 7/10 – As the other centre backs, he did his job. Decent at the back in what he had to do and did get quite far forward and was always looking to push on and create those overloads. Made one bad error when he took too long and then dallied with Baldock and ended up bringing down his man for a yellow card. After this he settled down and was fine. Just does a good job for the team and did not let us down.

  3. #3
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    Fleck 7/10 – I thought first half he was a bit off the pace again and a bit reserved. He had a few passes square and behind but not sure he looked to go forward too much. I also though him (and Norwood) sat off a bit again and gave them too much time (not that they did much with it). He was much better after the break; played further up the field and moved it on quicker and went forward more with the ball. Saw a few of those trademark runs and also overlaps down the left. Made a few good tackles also when he could and broke up play better than last week. The second goal came from his excellent tackle. We need a big trio of games from him with the Fleck we know from the 2nd half for all of the games.

    Norwood 7/10 – Still not quite at the level he was earlier in the season. I feel his passing has been mixed and he is a bit careless with it and/or too slow to move it. He did some decent things and controlled a lot of the origin of our play but just felt he could drive forward more. Teams just sit off him – he has acres to move into and then make the pass. His shooting was really poor with a few efforts well wise. However, despite this I would have liked him to have gone for goal on a few free kicks – the clever ones almost worked – short one and then touched one to Fleck but wanted us to have a shot from good positions. Need him to up it for the last three (no I am not John, 45, living with my Mum!). Got booked again for a wild lunging tackle.

    Duffy 7.5/10 – First half thought he was off it – again. Turned into trouble too much with the predictable jink inside and took way too many touches to move it on or make his decision. He never hides and kept coming for the ball but it was just not working. He lost it once and then fell over as he tried to bring them down and Murphy had a decent chance – maybe their best of the game. After the break a different game from him. He looked energised and got on it, drove at Forest, made them chase him back and started to penetrate. He did everything much quicker and started to play more on his toes and just get closer to other players and then move off after the initial pass. His goal was classic Duffy with a superb whipped finish. He continued to be involved in all the good stuff we did. Not sure he was man of the match for the overall game but played well 2nd half. A lot were saying take him off but you leave him on as he always gives you that link and still when off his game can do something magical as he proved.

    Madine 6.5/10 – First half we went long a lot to him which is not his fault but United seem to feel they have to get it forward quicker but he would surely want it to feet rather than up in the air. He battled and won a few headers but did not win everything against some tough defenders. He tried to link but him and McGoldrick were often not on the same wavelength and I felt he was on the floor a lot looking for fouls – he is a bit soft for such a big lad. He tried to link and it was not as if every ball came off him and I felt he kept them occupied and stopped them coming out. He was not great but linked for the move that led to the red card. I actually would have left him on and felt we did not have as much of an ‘out’ when he came off and started conceding territory and possession more. He is going to be important the next three games though with Sharp maybe not coming back till the last one or two.

    McGoldrick 8/10 – Thought he was excellent. A joy to watch. Could easily make him man of the match and maybe he was but gave it Stevens – maybe they were almost joint man of the match! His touch is so good and he kills it and glides inside effortlessly. He is so graceful. Some of his skills and link up is superb. Put so much effort in and at times showed he can be quite quick. He was the best player first half with some lovely touches but he could not quite find the killer ball. Second half he continued to be the main man but with others upping their game he was able to get more space.

    Subs –

    Hogan – He did at least put some effort in chasing down the keeper a few times and the defenders but not sure he touched the ball much at all. It was a spell where we got edgy and whilst they did not create much, we started to sit back more. I do feel he needs to be a bit more alive and at times the ball came out and he was behind his man. He has to do more for me when he plays.

    Lundstram – Thought he did a really good job. Got his foot in, covered ground and played very sensibly. More mobile than Coutts and more of a physical threat and this helped kill things when we got nervy for a period. He gave it away a bit but at least sent it forward and was looking to get it up the pitch.

    Dowell – Only on for 5 minutes or so but probably touched it more than Hogan! Got down the left and helped us see out time a few times.



    Wilder 7.5/10 – A win and a better performance. First half we were a bit off again and it was too slow and I felt we looked a bit edgy. We had loads of the ball but it was a bit predictable and safe. Second half we came out and moved it faster, got up the pitch and this led to the red card and then goal/s. We at least kept attacking when we scored and nearly got a second after this. Then we started to sit back again and you feared we may concede again just because of what happened last week but generally we at least got a few foot ins and stopped the crosses more although Forest were just a lesser threat than the direct Millwall side of a week ago. The subs were ok; I maybe would have left Madine another 5-10 mins but in the end, he knows if we need fresh legs. The other two changes helped us kill time and a brave call going for Lund tram instead of Coutts

    Referee – Last week the big call did not go for us. Today, it went for us. First half they had an appeal for a penalty but it clearly was a bit of a dive and he got booked but I worried when Colback went down I must admit. They had one half-hearted appeal for a handball but that was very close. Still both went for us even though neither were penalties really. Then there was the big call when McGoldrick. O’Neill said there was no contact and not sure there was much but he put his leg across him and he had to hurdle him. It was a foul and enough for a free kick. I will be honest I thought there were men across on the cover at the time but watching back there were not at all and he would have been in on goal. Technically it was a red card. I think if it had been given against us, I do not think I would have been happy being honest as McGoldrick still had a fair bit to do. That is me being honest. Outside of this he booked Byram for a cynical foul on McGoldrick which he took an age to give and then the Colback one. Baldock, Cranie and Norwood were all fair enough – two bad fouls and a daft hand ball where Baldock tried to claim a foul first – it was not. Outside of this he was fine really – he started the game a bit fussy and was blowing his whistle way too much but then he started to settle down and let things flow more. Several blatant foul throws got unpunished but the ref at least gave one as the assistant just stood there gormlessly.

    Crowd/Fans – Felt the crowd was much better. There was more support and the crowd seemed to will us forward more. Second half I felt they upped the noise and encouragement levels and that the noise when the goal went in was very loud. The crowd got a bit edgy when they had a brief spell or should I say we sat off and started retreating a bit. The fan kept with the team and I felt were for the most part much better. I am not sure there were lots of singing/chants it was just more positive in terms of reactions to certain things. The second goal was a big moment and then the belief really started to come back off the field. We now have a big effort in the two away games but will need to be patient next week against Ipswich as it will not be an easy game – it should be but does not always work like that.

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