Bristol Rovers 0-0 Blades - report
A third consecutive clean sheet paved the way for another vital point to the Blades tally.
A tough encounter on Valentine's Day saw John Fleck come closest by hitting a post, whilst Bristol Rovers had a late goal ruled out because of offside.
Boss Wilder made five changes. Hanson missed out with a groin complaint, whilst skipper Sharp, Duffy, Carruthers and Freeman dropped to the bench as the manager rotated the squad with an intense run-in predicted. O'Shea and Riley came in for their full debuts, whilst Lavery, Done and stand-in captain Coutts started.
The opening ten minutes saw United enjoy plenty of the ball without getting around the back of the home side. A run from Lines gave Rovers their first opportunity but from the subsequent corner, the Blades broke away with Lavery down the left and went close but O'Shea's sidefoot from 12 yards was just wide.
Lively movement from O'Shea, Lavery and Done kept the home defence on their toes and at the other end Bodin and Clarke both attempted efforts from outside the box. A cross from Partington around the half hour caused a nervous moment in the Blades defence but Moore gathered after being helped by Basham.
On 36 minutes Coutts was caught in possession but Bodin's shot deflected off Wright into the sidenetting and then United finished the half stronger. Fleck's effort from range was comfortable for Lumley but the home goalkeeper was worked again on the stroke of half-time, turning Lavery's header around a post from Riley's cross.
The Blades made a lively start to the second period. From O'Shea's cross on 49 minutes, Lavery twisted and turned but saw his shot pushed around a post by Lumley. From the resultant Fleck corner, O'Connell's header was deflected over and from the next Fleck corner, Lavery's header was blocked in a crowded penalty area.
Just before and after the hour mark, both sides had good chances. For United, Lumley's poor kick was pounced on by Fleck, whose shot hit the goalkeeper's left post; whilst Gaffney went clear for Rovers but he fell as Moore rushed out of his goal and despite a collision on the edge of the box, the decision was a goal-kick.
Sharp was introduced and so was Ebanks-Landell moment later, freeing Basham to head into the midfield. As the game entered the closing stages the action was high-energy stuff, although chances were few. A Coutts shot was comfortable for Lumley and Lavery's effort was blocked.
On 84 minutes, Rovers had the ball in the net but celebrations were stifled by a raised linesman's flag. Montano's cross was nodded in by Gaffney but he was deemed to be offside. There was more concern for United as Moore stayed down but after treatment he was fit to take the subsequent free-kick.
Rovers finished the stronger. On 88 minutes, Moore produced a fine save from Montano and from the resulting corner a melee ensued with bodies everywhere before Bodin fired over the crossbar.
Due to Moore's injury, six minutes of added time was announced but there was no further threat to either side as a point was registered on each tally.
Rovers: Lumley, Brown, Lockyer, Clarke, Harrison (Moore 60), Lines, Bodin, Sinclair (Montano 60), Gaffney, Sweeney, Partington.
Unused: Harris, Lucas, Puddy, Broom, Burn.
Blades: Moore, Fleck, O'Connell, Basham, Lavery, Done (Sharp 67), Wright, Riley, Coutts, Lafferty, O'Shea (Ebanks-Landell 74).
Unused: Long, McNulty, Freeman, Duffy, Carruthers.