Blades 2-2 Brentford - report
Four penalties, three sendings off and twelve bookings - and that is just half the story of an eventful night in front of Bramall Lane's biggest crowd of the season.
Two of the spot-kicks were missed and two were scored, whilst a goal in the 90th minute denied the Blades a famous victory, even then there was time for Chris Morgan's side to strike a post through Tony McMahon.
Barry Robson and Dave Kitson were on target for the Blades, whilst Marcello Trotta and Bradley Wright-Phillips netted for Brentford.
Saturday's performance and result allowed temporary boss Morgan the luxury of naming an unchanged squad - he stuck with the starting XI and bench that put Swindon Town to the sword.
Following a frantic start, with both sets of fans in fine voice, the home side conceded an unnecessary corner to present Brentford with the first chance. Dean swung and missed but Hodson's shot beat Long... but not McDonald, who cleared off the line with his body after flying through the air.
The Blades hit back with four chances in as many minutes, starting with Doyle and Kitson attempting to get shots away after Murphy's run down the left. McMahon fired over and then goalkeeper Moore was forced to push away long-range efforts from both McDonald and Doyle.
Doyle clipped over after good work by Porter and Flynn on 22 minutes before the strange occurrence of both goalkeepers being booked in the space of a minute - unfortunately it worked out better for the visitors.
Moore was booked for timewasting but from his clearance Donaldson raced through and although his shot was wide, referee Stroud pointed to the penalty spot as the onrushing Long caught the striker with his momentum. After Long was shown a yellow card he was unable to keep out the blasted spot kick from TROTTA.
Maguire was the next to be cautioned, Donaldson's pace again causing problems, whilst the defender was followed into the book by Kitson and Diagouraga, the duo squaring up as the temperature rose. Doyle was also cautioned for speaking out of turn soon after.
Reeves fired a long-rage free-kick at Long and McDonald shot over for the Blades, whilst just before the break Donaldson, who won the penalty and who was responsible for two Blades players receiving booking for fouls, received a yellow card himself for diving!
The half ended with a booking for McMahon, for a foul, making the yellow card count five to United and three to Brentford.
Forte replaced Flynn at the start of the second half and the all-action opening resulted in another penalty and sending off on 52 minutes. With the ball outside the box, one of the referee's assistants spotted an off the ball incident and immediately indicated a spot-kick. After consultation, referee Stroud upheld the decision and sent off Bees skipper Craig. However, McMahon crashed the penalty against the crossbar and from the rebound Porter hooked over.
Two chances in the space of a minute from Kitson, the first a header and the second a shot on the turn, kept up the momentum, whilst Morgan threw on Robson for Doyle just before the hour mark.
McMahon failed to let the penalty miss affect him and he went close with a deflected shot before winning United's second spot-kick in front of the Kop when Hodson stuck out his arm to prevent a chip over his head. ROBSON, on the pitch a matter of moments, took responsibility for the spot-kick and fired into the top corner, via the woodwork.
Long pushed away a free-kick from Reeves, before the Blades grabbed the lead on 68 minutes. Murphy beat his man on the right, used the spin of the ball and delivered for KITSON to head home at the back post, to the delight of the Kop.
The action was not over. Not by a long chalk. On 73 minutes the Blades were reduced to ten minutes and Brentford given the chance to level as Maguire was adjudged to have fouled Donaldson in the area and a fourth penalty was awarded. The decision looked harsh but there was no respite as Mr Stroud dismissed Maguire for a second cautionable offence. Despite Trotta, who had netted the first penalty, still being on the pitch, substitute Saunders stepped up and saw his spot-kick saved by Long, low to the goalkeeper's left. Higginbotham replaced Kitson and positioned himself alongside Collins in the heart of the defence.
Next, Brentford were reduced to nine men when Donaldson was late on McDonald in the middle of the park. It was the striker's second booking and he trudged off down the tunnel.
The Blades repelled two efforts from Reeves and Long got a touch to a Wright-Phillips effort when the striker attacked down the right, but Brentford did net a second with 89 minutes on the clock. It was the pace of WRIGHT-PHILLIPS which caused problems and he found a space beyond Long's left arm to score in front of the travelling fans.
Six minutes of added time gave both sides further hope and more nervous moments for the fans. It was United who were the more attack-minded and the reward almost came four minutes into the injury period but McMahon laid flat out on the turf when he saw goalkeeper Moore push his shot onto a post and out to safety.
The drama was finally over and although the Blades did not find the winner they craved a point was enough to move the Lane side up to fourth position.
Blades: Long, Maguire, Hill, Flynn (Forte 45), Doyle (Robson 58), Porter, McDonald, Kitson (Higginbotham 75), Collins, Murphy, McMahon.
Unused: Ironside, McFadzean, Whitehouse, Coyne.
Brentford: Moore, Forshaw (Saunders 68), Craig, Dean, Donaldson, Trotta (Wright-Phillips 74), Logan, Hodson (O'Connor 65), Diagouraga, Reeves, Bidwell.
Unused: El Alagui, Dallas, Gounet, Forrester.