Sheffield United v Scunthorpe United

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Football League Championship

Sheffield United0(0)Scunthorpe United4(1)

Dagnall 33, 73, Mirfin 63, Woolford 90+3

Sheffield United :
Simonsen, Jordan, Nosworthy, Ertl, Calve, Bartley, Montgomery (Yeates 64), Britton, Evans (Bogdanovic 79), Cresswell, Ward.
Subs not used:
Aksalu, Morgan, Taylor, Lowton, Quinn.

Scunthorpe United :
Murphy, Byrne, Mirfin, Nolan, Canavan, Togwell, O'Connor (Woolford 70), J.Wright (Raynes 87), Collins, Dagnall (Grant 84), Forte.
Subs not used:
Slocombe, McClenahan, A.Wright, Godden.


by Sheffield Star at Bramall Lane

DESPITE spending the majority of his career in the rarified atmosphere of the Premier League, Gary Speed professed his utmost respect for Scunthorpe's relatively modest achievements on the eve of last night's fixture at Bramall Lane.

Unfortunately for the Sheffield United manager, his team extended them the same courtesy.

The tenacity and resilience which Speed finds so endearing was again in evidence as Scunthorpe, despite spending long periods of an absorbing contest firmly on the back foot, ensured their remarkable record in this corner of South Yorkshire remains intact.

But the Blades, who watched Chris Dagnall embellish his growing reputation with a clinical brace either side of David Mirfin's header, created more than enough opportunities to have taken something from this match.

Instead they paid a heavy price for their profligacy as a welter of possession, chances and field position criminally went to waste, with substitute Martyn Woolford piling on the agony at the death.

Unfashionable, unfancied and always among the pre-season favourites for relegation, Scunthorpe have nevertheless been a thorn in United's side of late.

A goalless draw against the visitors from Lincolnshire ultimately marked the end of Bryan Robson's brief and turbulent reign while Kevin Blackwell, Speed's most recent predecessor, also struggled to overcome their obstinate resistance.

Former Wales international Speed, however, has been quietly transforming United's modus operandi since easing himself into the hot-seat a month ago and their more considered approach created a series of early opportunities with Jamie Ward hitting the foot of a post with barely five minutes gone.

Consistency has been one of the bedrocks of Speed's regime and, as expected, he named an unchanged starting 11 as the hosts went in search of a third straight success.

That meant Nyron Nosworthy and Kyle Bartley, whose partnership laid the foundations for victories over Preston North and Derby County, continued at the heart of defence with captain Chris Morgan again consigned to the bench.

Ian Baraclough did not enjoy the same luxury.

With Rob Jones failing a late fitness test on his injured knee and Nigel Adkins, the man responsible for preserving their Championship status last term, defecting to Southampton on Sunday evening, Scunthorpe could have been excused for falling into complete disarray.

The fact they did not can only strengthen Baraclough's case to be handed the job on a permanent basis when Glanford Park's board of directors meet to discuss the vacancy shortly.

Indeed the 39-year-old secured a result which appears to make his appointment a formality.

Ched Evans, whose performances have come under increasing scrutiny of late, saw two snap-shots blocked as the Blades continued to press after Ward's effort before also rattling the woodwork with a fierce drive following a deft feint.

Scunthorpe, though, survived the onslaught and stunned the home crowd by taking a 33rd-minute lead.

Dagnall appeared to handle Cliff Byrne's cross as he controlled it in the box but there was no disputing the finish as the former Rochdale marksman powered home beyond a despairing Steve Simonsen.

Creating chances has never been a problem for United but, unlike Scunthorpe, taking them has.

An intricate passing move, involving Johhny Ertl, Evans and Nick Montgomery, sent Richard Cresswell bearing down on goal but Joe Murphy proved his equal.

United, who saw Josh Wright scramble Bartley's header off the line during the closing moments of the first-half, continued the second in the same vein.

Ertl thought he had equalised after connecting with Stephen Jordan's free-kick but referee Neil Swarbrick pulled play back for an off-the-ball infringement.

It was a decision which cost them dear when, just past the hour, Mirfin converted Wright's corner and Dagnall pounced on Nosworthy's error to claim his second of the evening soon after.

Woolford slotted home into an empty net during stoppage time.