Scunthorpe 2-2 Blades - report
A late penalty from skipper Billy Sharp got ten-man United a deserved point at leaders Scunthorpe on Saturday.
Chris Basham had an eventful afternoon, scoring the opening goal before receiving a straight red for a tackle on Neal Bishop in a second-half, which saw Josh Morris and Duane Holmes give Scunthorpe the advantage at Glanford Park, only for Sharp to salvage a draw from the spot after David Mirfin fouled substitute Stefan Scougall.
For the trip to Lincolnshire, boss Wilder was forced into one change to his starting XI, with Fleck replacing the injured Wright. That meant a more defensive role for Basham, whilst new signing Brown took his place amongst the substitutes with Wilson also missing out through injury.
Inside the opening five minutes, there were a couple of minor scares for the Blades, as
O'Connell and then Ebanks-Landell were forced to clear over their own crossbars at the expenses of corners, from the second, Wallace headed wide. In response, O'Connell headed over from a good position from Fleck's flag-kick.
Ebanks-Landell became the first Blade to booked in the 13th minute having caught Bishop late. It was very much nip and tuck with neither side able to dominant possession and goalscoring opportunities were very much at premium, Fleck's long-range effort on the half hour went harmlessly wide.
It was the Iron who wasted the best chance of the game in the 32nd minute as van Veen blasted high and wide having latched onto Clarke's long ball forward. At the other end, Clarke then saw yellow for a foul on Sharp and from the resulting free-kick in the 34th minute, the Blades took the lead. Duffy played the ball short to O'Connell, he angled a first time pass to BASHAM who calmly slotted past the advancing Daniels from close-range.
As half-time approached, Done had a disagreement with referee Deadman and saw yellow, prior to the dangerous Holmes cutting inside from the right and firing into the side netting. The yellow card was out again before the interval, the time it was brandished at van Veen for a challenge on O'Connell. The last meaningful action of three minutes added time saw Freeman drag an effort wide.
The hosts were quickly out of the traps at the beginning of the second period, with Moore alert to the danger to deny Smallwood from the edge of the penalty area. United's first shot in anger came from Lafferty from Done's lay-off but it was well wide.
The home side had begun brightly and got their reward in the 55th minute, some neat play involving Toffolo and Smallwood started the move, before van Veen played in MORRIS who advanced purposefully before beating Moore at his near post.
The game had really opened following the equaliser, the home supporters were in good voice, whilst for the Blades, Duffy fired over from a promising position. In the 67th minute, the game potentially swung in Scunthorpe's favour as referee Deadman instantly produced a red card for Basham following a whole hearted tackle on Bishop.
The sending off had notched the atmosphere up and Morris again found space in the box to shoot, but this time Moore was more than equally to his powerfully struck effort. The first change of the afternoon saw Scougall replace Duffy. Scunthorpe responded with a double change themselves, as Madden and Hopper entered the fray.
With eight minutes remaining, Scunthorpe made their numerical advantage count, as HOLMES scored from distance, shooting across Moore on the angle having advanced past the challenge of Coutts. But that lead lasted only a matter of minutes, as United were gifted the chance to equalise from the penalty spot. Mirfin needlessly caught Scougall with a high boot for which he was carded for and skipper SHARP confidently hammered the ball down the middle of the goal to restore parity.
It was Scunthorpe turn to attack next and only a swarm of visiting bodies snuffed out the danger as Madden tried to turn home a free-kick from the right, as five minutes of added time were signalled. As the minutes ticked down, Lavery replaced Sharp and United deservedly got a share of the spoils.
Scunthorpe: Daniels, Wallace, Mirfin, Dawson (Madden 81), van Veen (Hopper 81), Morris, Bishop, Toffolo, Smallwood, Holmes, Clarke.
Unused: Anyon, Wiseman, Adelakun, Mantom, Goode.
Blades: Moore, Fleck, O'Connell, Basham, Sharp (Lavery 90), Done, Coutts, Freeman, Ebanks-Landell, Duffy (Scougall 76), Lafferty.
Unused: Ramsdale, Hussey, Brown, Whiteman, Chapman.