25/08/2012 – Colchester United 1 – 1 Sheffield United
After a Tuesday night stalemate with Coventry City the Blades traveled to Colchester and played their second ever 90 minutes at the Colchester Community Stadium.
Having started the season with draws against Preston and Portsmouth, it was to be a hat trick for the Essex club with the Blades once again ruing wasted chances and a failure to kill the game off for the second game in succession.
With an unchanged squad and starting line up Wilson’s men started the first half with around 900 traveling fans behind them in both senses of the word.
The manager once again opted for a more fluid formation, with an ever swapping middle three and Stephen Quinn in particular playing almost a free role.
The home side forced a couple of corners early on, which only meant the inevitable ongoing exchange between Clinton Morrison and the traveling Blades made an early start. The corners came to nothing and the towering presence of Harry Maguire kept the ex-Wednesday man quiet early doors, despite the presence of bandaging to the left thigh.
The Blades looked to get down the other end and an early link up between McAllister and McMahon resulted in the latter having a long range effort routinely collected by Cousins in his non-matching keeper kit.
It was another attack down the right that looked most promising in the opening exchanges with Maguire setting Quinn free with a clever ball which the Irishman stepped over, beating his man and putting him in behind. With the goal bearing down and his team-mates bursting into the box Quinn’s effort was met by the keeper and Colchester scrambled away for a corner.
The resulting corner was met at the back post by Maguire, but his header was unfortunately straight at the keeper.
The visitors persistence payed off shortly after as on 17 minutes John Cofie attempted to cut inside from the left and shoot from a similar angle to his goal at Rotherham pre-season. This effort was blocked by a defenders body, but Doyle gave the loose ball back to the loanee and in almost a carbon copy move to seconds before he cut inside and fired towards goal. This time, the ball evaded everyone and sailed over the head of Cousins into the Colchester goal, sparking wild celebrations down the opposite end of the field.
From distance, the keeper looked like he should have done better, especially having just seen an attempt at the same move, but you could take nothing away from the youngster opening his account in the league with a 25 yarder.
The Blades were in front and the chants of Cofie’s name, followed by a wave to the crowd from the manager provided a good backdrop for the next 10 minutes as led by Maguire the defence soaked up any pressure from the home side, allowing the fluid attack to push forward with a bit of confidence.
McAllister saw a header loop onto the roof of Cousins’ net before Kevin McDonald waltzed into the box past a defender, then past the goalkeeper before pulling back the ball to Cofie. Unfortunately, the goalscorer couldn’t apply the finish, but it was positive play from the Blades.
Blackman, who again had worked hard and tried to offer more than just a traditional strikers role, fed Stephen Quinn from the right, but again Cousins was equal to the shot.
After 2 minutes time added on, the visitors would have certainly been the happier of the two heading in at the break.
United started the second half in much the same manner, with a quick break finding Blackman on the Blades left, who switched the ball to Cofie. With the home side stretched, United overplayed the move with Quinn eventually being crowded out as he received the front man’s pass.
In a strange substitution and much to his annoyance, ex-Blades loanee John Joe O’Toole was taken off after 47 minutes, putting an end to his ongoing spat with Blades captain Michael Doyle.
After Blackman was fouled, McMahon attempted to curl a free kick in at the near post and almost achieved his plan of catching the keeper unawares, just missing the target and hitting the side netting.
Despite cutting an isolated figure down the left hand side, without the luxury of a supporting midfielder, Hill was getting forward well and a cross from his side evaded the busy penalty area finding Blackman at the back post who was unlucky to see his effort well saved by the legs of Cousins right by his post.
Finding particular luck down the left hand side, both Hill and Quinn went on to have efforts blocked by defending bodies as the Blades pushed for a second but were struggling to make the final touch pay.
In a familiar substitution Miller replaced the goalscorer Cofie, who left the pitch to chants of “Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole, Cofie, Cofie”.
The home side had a rare attack, resulting in Morrison shooting off target whilst under pressure from the so-far resolute defence.
Down at the other end, McMahon, who had seen more of the final third than in the previous two fixtures; had another 25-yard effort which sailed just wide of the Colchester goal.
Colchester sensed the urgency of their situation and pushed forward again, this time winning a corner. From this delivery, Bean (who could perhaps consider himself lucky to have only had the one yellow card) flicked on and in the mid-box panic Morrison managed to divert the ball into the back of the net.
Whilst against the balance of play, if anyone was going to score, it was always going to be Morrison, if only because of the mutual banter between him and the Blades fans. In typical fashion, the outspoken striker sprinted down field to call out the traveling Blades who had earlier been giving him some stick.
This gave the home side a boost and they were back at the Blades shortly after, this time Morrison unconvincingly requesting a foul as the Blades defence stood strong.
A few minutes later, the hard work looked to have been undone as Bond’s wayward shot deflected off Hill, but thankfully bounced off the inside of Howard’s post with the keeper helpless.
With just three minutes added time to try and claw back maximum points, the Blades pushed forward with Morrison once again frustrating as he stopped an attack by conning a free kick… Much to his delight as he signaled to the baying Yorkshiremen.
McMahon came close to sealing a win with a header which looked destined to creep under the bar, only for Cousins to get a hand to it and tip over.
There was just enough time remaining for the Clinton Morrison show to continue, as the Blades corner was delayed by the targeting of Blackman. With Wordsworth and Morrison the biggest culprits, a melee ensued with Neill Collins cleverly bear hugging Blackman to safety as the incensed youngster tried to get at Morrison. Not content with the unsportsmanlike efforts at winding up Blackman, Morrison continued to square up with United men attempting to spark a reaction after calm had temporarily returned. The referee chose to ignore the blatant attempts which thankfully didn’t provoke the desired reaction and, as the ball was cleared down field from the corner, blew his whistle to signal the end of the game.
Whilst many would have probably considered a draw a decent enough result before kick-off, it felt like two points lost rather than one gained.
Colchester United: Cousins, Rose, Okuonghae, Heath, O’Toole (Bond 47), Morrison, Sears (Massey 88), Bean, Henderson, Wilson, Wordsworth.
Unused Substitutes: Pentney, Duguid, Izzet, Eastman, White.
Sheffield United: Howard, Maguire, Hill, Doyle, Blackman, McDonald, Collins, McAllister, Cofie (Miller 64), Quinn, McMahon.
Unused Substitutes: Flynn, Harriott, Philliskirk, Ironside, Long, Williams.