Wadley's Verdict: Cherries 0 Sheffield United 1

Bournemouth Echo: DEFEAT: Marc Pugh in action on Saturday DEFEAT: Marc Pugh in action on Saturday

BEAUTY is in the eye of the beholder.

For Danny Wilson and 1,177 hardy souls from the north, this must have been a sight to rival Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez and Anne Hathaway.

But for the majority of spectators packed inside Dean Court, it was what it was: A ruthless, efficient example in how to win ugly away from home.

The fact a seemingly innocuous off-the-ball clash later emerged as a major incident perhaps spoke volumes for the scarcity of the talking points.

While the difficult, sandy state of the pitch and questionable standard of refereeing did little for the game, it was Sheffield United’s nous, work-rate and fine defending which killed the contest.

Despite dictating possession, trying to play passing football and showing a big improvement from their Preston off-day, not much hit the target for Cherries.

But Eunan O’Kane’s post-match assessment arrowed straight into the bullseye.

“I think I would have been a little bit disappointed if I had travelled from Sheffield to watch that,” said the recalled midfielder.

“They will go home happy because they have got three points but, in terms of a great spectacle for football and for the league, I don’t think it is a DVD you will be pulling out to show to anyone in years to come.”

Blades boss Wilson gave a slightly different account.

“It is not just about the physicality, it is between your ears,” said Wilson, having guided his team to the League One summit.

“They were clever enough to understand what would cause Bournemouth problems, both in and out of possession. The team played terrifically well.”

And although displays like this will win the Blades few marks for artistic merit, they could prove crucial when the points get counted come April.

Unexciting yet uncompromising and unwavering, the Bramall Lane outfit looked big and strong and they executed their game-plan without fail.

With plenty on the line for the promotion contenders, a sense of occasion was in the air, cutting through the biting cold as fans arrived at the ground.

But, barring a fast and furious opening 10 minutes which really captured the imagination, the high-profile showdown did not live up to its billing.

Cherries controlled possession and looked neat and tidy but there was no way through the resilient, well-organised team from the Steel City.

For the neutral, worst fears were realised when the visitors took a 20th-minute lead, allowing them to sit in and protect their slender advantage.

After Barry Robson had rattled Shwan Jalal’s crossbar with a dipping volley, Lewis Grabban was brilliantly denied by keeper George Long following fine work by O’Kane.

It then took an exceptional block from Blades skipper Michael Doyle to prevent Harry Arter’s ferocious drive from putting Cherries in front.

But that was as good as it got in terms of goalmouth action.

Sheffield United shut up shop as soon as Jamie Murphy had seized on a costly slip from Brighton loan man Marcos Painter, clinically lashing a rebound beyond Jalal, having seen his initial drive cannon back off the woodwork.

Brett Pitman looked the man most likely for Cherries as he sought room to manoeuvre by dropping deep into pockets of space.

But packing the midfield behind altruistic lone frontman Dave Kitson, the Blades pressed and harassed Cherries.

Former Celtic man Robson sat on Arter and O’Kane in a bid to halt attacks at source and if Cherries did slice through, they encountered man mountain cen tre-half Harry Maguire.

Painter was subbed at the interval with Matt Ritchie reverting to left-back and Josh McQuoid arriving on the flank.

Cherries were better for the change and continued to prompt and probe but, as boss Eddie Howe admitted afterwards, it proved a rare off day for his flair players.

Howe also highlighted the “game management” of the Blades, adding: “They are a strong, physical, experienced team who, individually, I would say have been in this position many times.”

As if United’s know-how and tactics had not provided enough frustration, referee Sutton often left players and fans baffled and angered in equal measure. Abuse rained down from the stands and arguments erupted on the pitch over the stop-start nature of the contest.

Fractious, ill-tempered and needlessly niggly in the end, it all boiled over when Pitman and Blades defender Neill Collins clashed off the ball.

Pitman hit the deck holding his face after Collins had appeared to block his path with his shoulder in full view of the well-placed Sutton.

The referee deemed no action necessary, with Wilson later accusing Pitman of “feigning injury” in a bid to get Collins dismissed, while the Cherries striker responded by questioning the conduct of Blades captain Doyle.

Video footage emerged on the Internet and fingers of blame were soon pointed in all directions.

The ugly incident summed up much of the match. It was the beautiful game... but only for those wearing white.

Match facts

Cherries: (4-4-2) Jalal 6; Francis 6, Cook 7, Seaborne 5.5, Painter 4.5 (McQuoid, h-t, 6); Ritchie 6, Arter 5, O’Kane 6.5, Pugh 5; Grabban 5 (Tubbs, 73), Pitman 5.5 (Fraser, 68). Unused subs: Hughes, Fogden, MacDonald, Allsop (g/k).

Booked: Grabban, Arter.

Blades: (4-4-2) Long; McMahon, Maguire, Collins, Higginbotham; Robson (Poleon, 84), Doyle, McDonald, Flynn; Kitson, Murphy. Unused subs: Westlake, Hill, Ironside, McFadzean, De Girolamo, Coyne (g/k).

Booked: Robson, Doyle.

Referee: Gary Sutton (Lincolnshire).

Attendance: 8,497 (including 1,177 away supporters).

Echo star man - Steve Cook

In a game dominated by defences, Cook was a solid presence at the heart of Cherries’ backline.

Wearing the armband in Tommy Elphick’s absence, he helped ensure it proved a largely quiet afternoon for goalkeeper Shwan Jalal.

Cook was Cherries’ best performer on a rare day when the team’s big attacking guns failed to fire.

Midfielder Eunan O’Kane created Cherries’ most presentable opportunity in a clash starved of goalmouth action.

Comments (10)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

7:51pm Sun 24 Feb 13

your having a laugh111 says...

Maybe he should look at the defender who went down by the north stand holding his head whilst looking up to the north stand making gestures, completely fooled Sutton as they did throughout blatant cheating on Saturday
Maybe he should look at the defender who went down by the north stand holding his head whilst looking up to the north stand making gestures, completely fooled Sutton as they did throughout blatant cheating on Saturday your having a laugh111
  • Score: 0

9:19am Mon 25 Feb 13

Masirah Mick says...

In time added on yet another Sheffield player crumpled in a heap just outside the Sheffield penalty box. One of his team-mates picked him up off the ground and both players had wide grins from ear to ear at yet another cynical bit of cheating.
In time added on yet another Sheffield player crumpled in a heap just outside the Sheffield penalty box. One of his team-mates picked him up off the ground and both players had wide grins from ear to ear at yet another cynical bit of cheating. Masirah Mick
  • Score: 0

9:38am Mon 25 Feb 13

InkZ says...

That bit of time wasting at the end of the first half took up about 3 minutes and then we only got 2 minutes added time, wtf?

I loved the ball coming about 3 foot over the line in front of the east stand and the linesman didn't even notice!
That bit of time wasting at the end of the first half took up about 3 minutes and then we only got 2 minutes added time, wtf? I loved the ball coming about 3 foot over the line in front of the east stand and the linesman didn't even notice! InkZ
  • Score: 0

9:55am Mon 25 Feb 13

SUFFERINGBJ says...

We so miss Daniels and Elphick and Pugh hasnt been himself since Daniels
injury. They (Sheffield) new exactly what they were doing and got away with it.
We need to toughen up,and have the option on the bench of a FLETCHER type forward to give us another option in the box, good crosses in are wasted when nobody is big enough to get on the end of them
We so miss Daniels and Elphick and Pugh hasnt been himself since Daniels injury. They (Sheffield) new exactly what they were doing and got away with it. We need to toughen up,and have the option on the bench of a FLETCHER type forward to give us another option in the box, good crosses in are wasted when nobody is big enough to get on the end of them SUFFERINGBJ
  • Score: 0

9:59am Mon 25 Feb 13

SUFFERINGBJ says...

They showed on the League show Matt Ritchie running at players shooting and scoring for Swindon..........has he been told ...
Not to run at players and shoot!
He was 100% better than Painter in defence but what a waste!
They showed on the League show Matt Ritchie running at players shooting and scoring for Swindon..........has he been told ... Not to run at players and shoot! He was 100% better than Painter in defence but what a waste! SUFFERINGBJ
  • Score: 0

11:03am Mon 25 Feb 13

Ashleyafcb says...

A BIG DOSE OF MAN THE F up is needed here nothing else they were big players and we froze we did not make runs we looked scared and its happened a few times this season and im sure coventry doncaster are going to do the same for me we need a shake up of a few players who have got to relaxed thinking the position is there's id drop pugh at the minute one of my favourites but isnt getting a cross in 90 mins of any real danger pitman and grabban have tubbs nipping at there heels and i feel they should drop one just to wake them up mix it up abit we are the same every week!!! need some freshness bursting in for example have fraser and tubbs and macdonald in the middle a new aspect as it really is looking sussed out at the minute by the good teams in this league.Its all very well playing the pretty football all the time but that doesnt get you promoted look at the teams who went up last year ! huddersfeild charlton sheff wednesday not one of them played pretty they grind and graft the hard results out its what we need to do a little more of. as for painter well left back in brighton would be his prefered position
A BIG DOSE OF MAN THE F up is needed here nothing else they were big players and we froze we did not make runs we looked scared and its happened a few times this season and im sure coventry doncaster are going to do the same for me we need a shake up of a few players who have got to relaxed thinking the position is there's id drop pugh at the minute one of my favourites but isnt getting a cross in 90 mins of any real danger pitman and grabban have tubbs nipping at there heels and i feel they should drop one just to wake them up mix it up abit we are the same every week!!! need some freshness bursting in for example have fraser and tubbs and macdonald in the middle a new aspect as it really is looking sussed out at the minute by the good teams in this league.Its all very well playing the pretty football all the time but that doesnt get you promoted look at the teams who went up last year ! huddersfeild charlton sheff wednesday not one of them played pretty they grind and graft the hard results out its what we need to do a little more of. as for painter well left back in brighton would be his prefered position Ashleyafcb
  • Score: 0

11:27am Mon 25 Feb 13

lockandload says...

We have used the same tactics week after week . It worked for a while but other teams have watched the DVDs on us and know how to play and beat us now.
Time for a change of tactics and stop always using one wing to advance up on.
Mix it up cos we have well and truely been sussed. Keep to the same method and we wont even be in the play offs
We have used the same tactics week after week . It worked for a while but other teams have watched the DVDs on us and know how to play and beat us now. Time for a change of tactics and stop always using one wing to advance up on. Mix it up cos we have well and truely been sussed. Keep to the same method and we wont even be in the play offs lockandload
  • Score: 0

12:35pm Mon 25 Feb 13

The Renegade Master says...

We need Elphick and Daniels back as soon as possible. Poor defending has cost us dear in the last couple of games and it appears our new left back from Brighton is not up to match level yet having played so few games this season. Unfortunately we cannot give Painter a game if he's not firing on all cylinders and costing us games!
So Ritchie at left back is the way forward for now even though it's not his strongest position.
As for our forwards none of them seem to be able to deal with a big bunch of bullying defenders. If Fletch is fit why on Earth wasn't he on the subs bench on Saturday to mix things up? In my opinion we need to get a Fletch like forward in on loan to give us a different option. Sam Vokes would be my choice.
The team cannot afford any more slips ups now, so three wins from the next three games are vital if we are not to slip from being automatic promotion chasers to play off hopefuls.
UTCIAD!
We need Elphick and Daniels back as soon as possible. Poor defending has cost us dear in the last couple of games and it appears our new left back from Brighton is not up to match level yet having played so few games this season. Unfortunately we cannot give Painter a game if he's not firing on all cylinders and costing us games! So Ritchie at left back is the way forward for now even though it's not his strongest position. As for our forwards none of them seem to be able to deal with a big bunch of bullying defenders. If Fletch is fit why on Earth wasn't he on the subs bench on Saturday to mix things up? In my opinion we need to get a Fletch like forward in on loan to give us a different option. Sam Vokes would be my choice. The team cannot afford any more slips ups now, so three wins from the next three games are vital if we are not to slip from being automatic promotion chasers to play off hopefuls. UTCIAD! The Renegade Master
  • Score: 0

5:31pm Mon 25 Feb 13

curryandstella says...

DON'T PANIC! 2 points from top, a win tomorrow all to play for. utc. be positive.
DON'T PANIC! 2 points from top, a win tomorrow all to play for. utc. be positive. curryandstella
  • Score: 0

1:36pm Tue 26 Feb 13

CC C-siders says...

Mr Wadley, were you at this game or just commenting from TV coverage?
The referee was the worst seen at DC since Barry Knight yet no mention. Not an excuse but without doubt his appalling decisions and failure to penalise Sheffield for so many incidents, not least the clear attack on Brett, helped gift this game to the thugs.
Mr Wadley, were you at this game or just commenting from TV coverage? The referee was the worst seen at DC since Barry Knight yet no mention. Not an excuse but without doubt his appalling decisions and failure to penalise Sheffield for so many incidents, not least the clear attack on Brett, helped gift this game to the thugs. CC C-siders
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

Get Adobe Flash player
About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree