Rochdale 3-3 Blades - report
As the season nears the final furlong, the entertainment value continues for Blades fans but only a point was collected at Rochdale.
Mark Duffy, Daniel Lafferty and Billy Sharp's 24th goal of the season put United on top but Rochdale battled for a point in front of 3,500 Unitedites.
After the victory over Bolton in the last outing, boss Wilder named an unchanged starting line-up and substitutes' bench. Rochdale's team included three who have played for the Blades - McGahey, Mendez-Laing and Davies.
On a heavily sanded pitch after recent rain, the first goalmouth action saw Moore collect a Rathbone cross. It was, however, the home goalkeeper collecting the next entry into the box that paved the way for the opening goal - Wilson picked up Lund's back-pass, gifting a free-kick to United inside the box. Rochdale provided a big wall but Coutts laid off for DUFFY to curl into the corner of the net.
Duffy was involved in United's second goal, moments later, in a frenetic start. He got the better of Cannon and drew a free-kick. Fleck's delivery was half-cleared to 30-yards from goal where LAFFERTY was waiting to hammer back, the ball drifting away from the goalkeeper and into the top corner.
Rochdale hit back with a couple of corners, McGahey headed one over, before another ex Blade pulled a goal back on 20 minutes. Lund's cross was bundled in at the back post by DAVIES.
The early pace subsided with the game settling into a tough battle. From another free-kick won by Duffy, Rochdale again half-cleared but this time Coutts could only find Wilson's gloves and the goalkeeper then saved an O'Connell header. For the home side, Mendez-Laing's pace was causing problems.
As half-time approached, it remained tense and tight, the only opportunity of note was another Lafferty shot, which was on target but blocked.
The Blades made a half-time substitution, Carruthers on for O'Connell, which prompted a change in formation but within two minutes of the restart, the home side were level. A move began on the right but Cannon recycled on the left and LUND swept the ball before Moore could react.
Before the hour United made another change, Ebanks-Landell taking over from Hanson, who picked up a knock moments earlier, forcing Wilder to alter his system again.
The change coincided with United getting back on top, although the home defence were proving tough to break down. A couple of corners put Rochdale under pressure before the lead was regained on 69 minutes. Basham attacked down left and his cross was just too high for Ebanks-Landell but SHARP was positioned at the back post to fire home, despite the efforts of a defender on the line.
Soon after Ebanks-Landell almost turned in a Coutts cross but Rochdale remained a threat and Wright was forced to clear as Vincenti was ready to pounce on a Rathbone cross.
Rochdale dragged themselves level once more on 78 minutes. Rathbone's deep cross picked out MENDEZ-LAING, who cut inside both Lafferty and Wright before firing past Moore.
Moments later, Moore produced a tremendous save to keep United level, dropping to his right to keep out Henderson's header from a Noble Lazarus cross.
The final ten minutes saw both sides keen to win the game, rather than settle for a point each. On 87 minutes, a free-kick routine saw Fleck and Coutts have touches before Lafferty's shot was saved by the goalkeeper's body. Two minutes later, a referee's advantage saw the ball break to Henderson in the box but Ebanks-Landell made a timely tackle.
Three minutes of injury-time again saw both sides looking to push forward but there were no further chances in a high-energy end to the fixture.
Rochdale: Wilson, McNulty, McGahey, Lund, Mendez-Laing, Rathbone (Camps 78), Keane (Noble Lazarus 58), Davies (Vincenti 69), Allen, Cannon, Henderson.
Unused: Thompson, Logan, Morley, Kitching.
Blades: Moore, Fleck, O'Connell (Carruthers 45), Basham, Sharp, Wright, Coutts, Hanson (Ebanks-Landell 56), Freeman, Duffy (Lavery 84), Lafferty.
Unused: Long, Done, Wilson, O'Shea.