01/09/2012 – Sheffield United 5 – 3 Bournemouth
Bournemouth were the visitors for the second home league fixture of the season, the Cherries having drawn their three games to date and being tipped in some circles for a strong season.
One change was enforced on Danny Wilson, with Ryan Flynn coming in to replace Stephen Quinn who would be making his debut for new club Hull City. Richard Cresswell, having recently signed a new player-coach contract, had to make do with the bench along with Daryl Westlake who was back amongst the first team squad. New signing Dave Kitson looked on from the stands.
It was United to start the match, kicking towards the re-named Bramall Lane end, sporting new signage with the name and photo of Gold Medalist Jessica Ennis.
The home side started fairly positively and almost created a chance in the opening stages when Flynn got to the byline on the right hand side and cut the ball back which just evaded the attentions of Nick Blackman.
Back down the other end and under the watch of Maguire and McMahon, Bournemouth managed to get a harmless free header which sparked a passionate exchange of words between Neill Collins and the experienced right back. Collins then got to work down the other end, meeting a Flynn corner and sending the ball over the bar.
Bournemouth had their first real chance of the game shortly after, when United gave them far too much space down the right hand side and were caught napping as the ball was centered by ex-Blade Simon Francis. Thankfully Grabban’s effort went wide, but it was an early warning for the Blades.
Blackman, never afraid to have a strike at goal shot from 30 yards after finding himself with space, but the young strikers effort went over the bar.
On twenty minutes, Bournemouth won a corner in front of the Kop and after a Barnard effort was blocked, sent the ball back into the middle. Elphick was given too much space and managed to direct a header past the helpless Howard to break the deadlock.
The Blades were struggling in the middle of the park, with the pairing of McDonald and Doyle often struggling to protect the defence in an uncomfortable few minutes.
It didn’t take United long to get back on level terms as McDonald cut inside from the right and hit a left footed effort that looked destined for the bottom corner. The Scot saw his shot bounce back off the inside of the post with the keeper beaten.
The Blades quickly re-worked the rebound and got the ball out left to the advancing Hill, who put in a deep cross to the back post. McAllister headed the ball back into the danger area and Ryan Flynn was on hand to beat his marker to the ball and volley into the back of the net.
After the restart Flynn, with a spring in his step and finding more space since moving across to the left hand side, beat his man and put an inviting ball in across the 6 yard box but the keeper was first to it.
The Blades were looking more confident and the man of the moment doubled his tally shortly after. McMahon’s delivery from the right was cleared, but only as far as Flynn on the left hand side, who got the ball under control and curled a beautiful finish past the outstretched Jalal into the bottom corner.
In front, and growing in confidence the Blades were looking dangerous and starting to cause problems in the final third. With a few minutes remaining in the half, McDonald and Cofie combined to win the ball back just inside the opposition half. The Manchester United youngster set off towards goal under the attentions of two opponents, held them off and then unleashed a strike fit for any stage from 20 yards flying over the keeper and raising the home faithful to their feet.
There was just enough time for another chance before half time, when Neill Collins came forward with authority and played a one-two with McDonald before passing to Cofie. Cofie moved the ball onto his right foot and struck another long range effort which he saw smash off the crossbar with the keeper struggling to get near it.
Wilson, presumably happy with the quick turnaround in fortunes, sent the same 11 back out for the second half.
It was the visitors who made the most positive start to the second half, with another corner causing problems for the defence as Barnard was allowed to head in at the back post.
Cofie had been in discussions with the bench for a few minutes during breaks in play and seemed in slight discomfort. This resulted in him being substituted on 55 minutes and spending the rest of the match laid in front of the dug-out with ice packs.
Replacing Cofie was Richard Cresswell, who after applause for the youngster, was welcomed onto the pitch with an appreciative ovation.
Five minutes later, the impressive Flynn beat Francis to a ball on the left to win possession back and ran towards the line. Cutting back on himself and leaving the recovering Francis on the floor he crossed to meet the head of Cresswell who had powered into the box. The experienced striker met the ball with a controlled header into the top corner in front of the Kop, leaving the Bournemouth stopper with no chance.
Hill, Flynn and Blackman linked up well to put McAllister through on goal shortly after, but the midfielder’s effort was blocked by Jalal.
Working hard up front and looking hungry to get a piece of the action, Nick Blackman skipped in front of a defender to win back the ball but was caught with a lunge leaving him in a heap and looking in pain. After a short stoppage, he thankfully got back to his feet and was able to continue.
With the ball heading towards him, Bournemouth ensured that Cresswell wasn’t to get his head on the ball again by bear hugging the striker on the penalty spot and attempting to remove his shirt… The referee decided this was within the laws of the game and chose to ignore the shouts much to Cresswell’s frustration.
McDonald had a shot deflected over the bar, before Flynn once again beat his man down the left but couldn’t quite get his foot around the ball before it went out for a goal kick.
The scoring wasn’t over yet and after surviving a scare when Doyle lost possession in his own penalty area, United allowed the visitors to pull one back after Pugh was given far too much space to power a shot into the bottom corner from 20 yards.
With Bournemouth looking to push on and grab a late equaliser and as the fourth official indicated 4 minutes added time, McMahon had to awkwardly clear over his own bar after Barnard beat Hill and Maguire.
Back down the other end and Blackman’s hard work paid off as he was taken to the floor as he entered the penalty area. This time, though mainly thanks to intervention from his linesman, the referee pointed to the spot.
Blackman stepped up and, confidently stalling mid run up, placed past the keeper into the bottom corner to seal the result.
Sheffield United: Howard, Maguire, Hill, Flynn, Doyle, Blackman, McDonald, Collins, McAllister, Cofie (Cresswell 57), McMahon.
Unused Substitutes: Westlake, Miller, Harriott, Ironside, Long, Williams.
Bournemouth: Jalal, Francis, Partington (McQuoid 57), Pugh, Daniels, Elphick, MacDonald (Hughes 45), Grabban, Addison, Barnard, O’Kane (Fogden 77).
Unused Substitutes: Zubar, Thomas, Tubbs, Flahavan.