Back to normality after last weeks FA Cup trip to Northampton and a very big, but definitely winnable game away to Sheffield United. The Sunday game at 12pm meant getting up ludicrously early to make the trip north. Now first things first, this is going to be very moany and critical toward events in the game.
Everyone thought James Maddison would make the bench today, but he was not involved, not deemed read enough by Tony Mowbray. However there was a return to the bench and it's Joe Cole, one of my childhood heroes was back from a hamstring problem. His last interaction saw him score "that goal" and it had been over a month since that.
As mentioned Cole began on the bench, but the starting XI of Charles-Cook, Ricketts, Martin, Turner, Stokes, O'Brien, Vincelot, Fleck, Murphy, Lameires and Armstrong was still very strong and capable of winning the game. Interestingly Ryan Kent didn't manage a starting place in the team despite his blistering pace, in my opinion he is more key than we think and it is vital he is amongst the loanees we keep in January.
Sheffield United really showed their true intention early on, break us to stop us scoring, late tackles, hacking us down if we were about to start an attack. Adam Armstrong was played through on goal, 10 yards out, his play ground for scoring but was saved well by George Long. Soon after was one of the biggest talking point of the game, Ruben Lameires put the ball past Jay McEveley but he showed no signs of stopping and completely took Ruben out at his knees, definite red card in my opinion, but the referee, for his first mistake of many, bottled it and only booked him. Everyone felt this was a shocking decision.
Just before half time Matt Done was running through when his shirt was lightly pulled by Ben Turner, claims were given for a red card as Turner was last man but I wouldn't have sent him off and it would have been an outrageous decision given what he'd done a few minutes previous. Eventually we got into half time, we just needed the first goal and I could see us doing exactly that if we kept focused.
Even in the second half the Blades kept on attacking us, on the hour mark we brought on Cole for Jim O'Brien and I was excited to see the impact he would make. Not long after the breakthrough was made, Jacob Murphy's cross was deflected off the hand of a defender to George Long who spilled over his own line, Cole ran off celebrating, and we were 1-0 up!... or so we thought, the referee had given neither the goal nor the penalty for handball. This was the second poor decision the referee would make but I only found out via twitter not having seen from the other side of the stadium.
With 10 minutes left in the match, Sheffield United won a corner which was put into the box, Charles-Cook missed and Billy Sharp's shoulder put the ball in the net, we were 1-0 down in a game where we should be facing 10 men and be 1-0 up and a lucky goal from a team whom hadn't had a shot on target for the entire first half.
One final talking point of the game was the second yellow of Sam Ricketts, he put his foot to the ball and cleanly got it, the referee wouldn't even have blown his whistle if the attacker hadn't bowled over in 'agony', the only thing missing was the superman dive on to the floor. His sending off was the worst end was to the worst game.
What can you do? It's just one of those games, on that Sunday in December, we were well and truly robbed. However the only thing you can do is pick yourselves back up again and not let the loss get to you. What a game to mark the 20th 'A View From The Stands', and the 21st will be our home game to second bottom Oldham Athletic and given our previous track record is the sort of game we would definitely drop points at.
My Man Of The Match - Ruben Lameires - Despite almost having his career ended in the first half, Ruben was running the game down the right wing before being, wrongly in my opinion, substituted off. Out of nowhere, Lameires is the joint leader of awards with Adam Armstrong, interesting fact ( to me ) every time Lameires has won an award, we have lost the game.