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19:25 28th April 2012

Blades 2-2 Stevenage - match report

The Lane's biggest crowd of the season and a new kit failed to inspire United to victory in the final home game of the regular season.

The necessary victory did not materialise, despite fighting back from a two goal deficit. Joel Byrom and Scott Laird gave Stevenage the lead before Richard Cresswell and Matt Lowton gave United a fighting chance.

The vast majority of the 30,000+ crowd willed United on late on but a late goal was not forthcoming.

O'Halloran was given his full debut in the live Sky clash, replacing fellow loanee, Hoskins, who suffered a hernia problem in the previous match. Taylor also took over at left back from Hill, who collected a hamstring injury at MK Dons. The incoming pair were like-for-like changes as boss Wilson continued with the 4-4-2 formation. The experience of Ertl and Cresswell was added to the bench.

Within a minute United's front two, O'Halloran and Porter, connected with Quinn's cross but neither could direct the ball past goalkeeper Day, whilst Quinn also whipped in a couple of further dangerous deliveries in the opening 15 minutes but Porter could not connect.

Michael O'Halloran

Stevenage, for their part, won the first corner and Byrom fired well wide, whilst a drilled effort from Freeman was a foot over the crossbar. Williamson half-volleyed over but chances for the visitors continued with Shroot shooting into the side-netting after a probing run by Freeman, who, moments later saw his shot deflected just wide with Simonsen at full stretch.

Quinn made a hash of trying to turn home a Lowton cross before it got worse for United when Stevenage took the lead after Williamson squandered possession on 31 minutes. Freeman strided across the halfway line, played down the right flank to Agyemang, whose cross was met by a combination of Maguire and BYROM, with the ball spinning into the corner of Simonsen's net.

Two minutes later Simonsen pushed away a Bostwick shot from distance as Stevenage looked for a second. The remainder of the half saw United on top, without really troubling Day. The closest the Blades came was a Williamson free-kick, which Maguire met, but the effort was turned away for a corner, from which Doyle lashed over.

No changes were made at the interval but United's aim to secure a win was made much harder when Stevenage doubled their lead on 47 minutes. Build-up on the left ended with LAIRD's shot deflecting off Lowton to deceive Simonsen and delight the away fans in the Bramall Lane stand.

United's attempts to get back in the game were hampered by a string of stray passes and chief Wilson made a double change, introducing Cresswell and Flynn for Porter and Quinn. From a Williamson free-kick, which Maguire nodded back across goal, a Collins header was deflected wide, whilst Williamson pulled a shot wide with his left-foot.

The substitutes took less than 10 minutes to make an impact, combining as United pulled a goal back. Doyle played the ball left for Flynn, whose cross was met and beautifully placed into the corner of the net by CRESSWELL.

Richard Cresswell scores

Within moments the advantage could been back to two following a breakaway. Freeman carried the ball 50 yards, beating Doyle in the process, but after laying off, Shroot's effort was deflected over. The action was, by now, end to end, with the visitors still looking dangerous on the break.

O'Halloran was crowded out as he attempted to get a shot away inside the box, whilst a series of crosses, set-pieces and passes were repelled by the visitors. Beattie was thrown on as the last change, Taylor was replaced and Doyle slotted into left-back.

In the final ten minutes, Doyle's long ball was flicked on by Beattie but O'Halloran scuffed his shot, whilst McDonald fired wide soon after but a second goal gave the Blades impetus. On 85 minutes, Maguire's long diagonal ball was headed down by Beattie for the advanced LOWTON to volley into the roof of the net.

The goal ensured the remaining minutes, which was five plus four additional, was like the alamo with the Blades peppering the Stevenage goal. In those nine minutes, McDonald fired over from distance, Beattie's shot was kicked away by Day, another McDonald shot was saved, Beattie was off target again and Lowton's shot was blocked with the ball falling nicely for Day.

However, it proved not to be enough as the visitors held on and United had to settle for a point.

Blades: Simonsen, Lowton, Doyle, Williamson, Collins, Taylor (Beattie 74), Maguire, Porter (Cresswell 54), McDonald, Quinn (Flynn 54), O'Halloran.
Unused: Ertl, Howard.

Stevenage: Day, Wilson, Laird, Ashton, Byrom, Roberts, Freeman (Long 84), Bostwick, Agyemang (Beardsley 78), Lascelles, Shroot (Mousinho 74).
Unused: Julian, Reid.

    Data provided by Press Association