Sheffield United`s post-Premier League headache continued this afternoon as Watford blunted the Blades at Vicarage Road. Bryan Robson`s side had the climate advantage-the appalling Northern weather evidently followed his side South specially for the game. On the field it made little difference, as you may have expected, as Watford were far superior for the majority of the game.
Watford started well enough as Tommy Smith headed Darius Henderson`s cross just wide of the far post. This immediate chance jerked the Blades into action and Robson`s side could have taken the lead just five minutes later as Mart Poom denied Michael Tonge with an agile save. Watford, in reply, stormed into the Blades half only to see Gavin Mahon blaze well over when faced with an open goal.
The Blades wouldn`t take Watford`s consistent attacking lying down and carved out chances of their own-only brave defensive heroics from Danny Shittu and Jay DeMerit prevented the Yorkshire side from breaking through on several first-half occasions.
As those of you who read my ‘Midweek Memoirs` will know, I don`t rate United`s chances of progressing with James Beattie up front and I was proven right today as the former Everton man found chances hard to come by with the form of Shittu and DeMerit. For all the Blades neat, passing football, there was no end product and bar his early stop, Mart Poom was scarcely troubled. Watford were having problems of their own with Marlon King and Darius Henderson constantly being sucked wide whilst Mahon and Williamson sat too deep to close down the United midfield.
As the old saying goes, ‘The second half was a completely different kettle of fish`. Ok, as the new saying goes (watch, It`ll catch on). The Hornets returned rejuvenated and with bundles more energy, aggression and pace than the first half.
This almost immediately payed dividends, as with ten minutes of the second half gone, Darius Henderson saw his inch-perfect cross volleyed home first time by Lee Williamson. Cue jubilation. At the other end, silence as the ‘fans that deserve Premiership football` mourned another disappointing result.
A goal down, United failed to respond appropriately and Watford continued to flow forward, sadly their finishing let them down as King placed one from a tight angle when one on one whilst Jobi McAnuff headed wide from a perfect cross.
Darius Henderson looked fitter, more lean and stronger than ever as he shook of the attentions of Matt Kilgallon on numerous occasions, sadly his best chance landed smartly in the arms of Paddy Kenny. Marlon King also fired just over from a similar range.
The arrival of midweek comedian Steve Kabba barely raised an applause from his former ‘fans` who saw there only second half chance of note end up pointless as the referee awarded a Watford the throw for a ‘foul throw`. It is worth mentioning finally that Andre Marriner has earnt his place in the ‘S.U.F.C-we feel hard done by club` after awarding everything in the Blades favour including imaginary fouls. Congratulations Andre!
Job done, a trip to the Walkers next with the Golden Boys toping the league. Think yourselves lucky Sheffield United fans; you`d only have been propping up the division above!
Sheffield United: Kenny; Bromby, Kilgallon, Morgan (c), Armstrong; Gillespie, Montgomery, Tonge; Stead (Geary), Webber (Shelton) and Beattie.
Referee: Andre Marriner
One great save, otherwise untroubled.
Solid and spectacular-even managed a forward run!
As brave as ever, perfect partner for Shittu.
Easily coped wit Beattie’s physical threat.
Lax to begin with, but came into the game more and attacked well.
Not as his best, but worked hard. Still unwilling to take men on.
Workaholic. Shame about his passing.
As mentioned before, superb. Complimented Mahon’s game excellently.
Frustrating. Has talent, want use it, unwilling to run at fullbacks-bar one occasion.
Worked hard, but sucked wide.
The water carrier-that despite playing up front. Great ball for the goal, got into threatening positions.
His side weren’t great on the ball, or off it first half-that all changed in the second period.
Sheffield United matched Watford, except for the final ball. His side may prove me wrong, but are yet to do it.