Danny Wilson made three changes to the team that started against Scunthorpe United in midweek, Stephen Quinn and Richard Creswell returned to the starting line up for James Beattie and Jonny Ertl. In addition, Andy Taylor made a long awaited return to the squad after spending roughly over a year on the sidelines. Andy Taylor took up his familiar role at left back, while Jean-Francois moved to centre back to replace Neill Collins who was missing due to a family situation.
United started bright and breezy and attacked from the outset, pegging back Oldham and getting two quick corners in as many minutes. United also were looking to keep possession and use it wisely.Lee Williamson linked up well with Matthew Lowton and Williamson played a nice ball down the United right hand side to Chedwyn Evans. Evans cut inside the box and tried to play the ball across the box but Oldham cleared, the ball was played in and Oldham failed to clear their lines properly as Cresswell was able to get a shot off but it drifted wide.
Oldham managed to link a nice bit of play together and get a corner of their own. The ball bounced around and was deflected over by Oldham’s Tarkowski. United quickly regained the moment and the fast and frantic pace continued as on 8 minutes, another corner was awarded and this time Matthew Lowtons header was well saved by Cisak. Yet again though Oldham did not rest on their laurels as they tried to gain their own foothold in the match as they themselves managed to get two corners after poor play from United. Moments later though Andy Taylor robbed Tarkowski of possession on the edge of the Oldham’s box as Tarkowski seemed to dilly-dally at clearing his lines, the resulting shot was a tame affair and off target from United’s full back.
Oldham tried to break after more United pressure, and forced Ryan Flynn to make a good tackle outside of his own box. Oldham started to get more men behind the ball and United decided to be patient, stringing several passes together and often moving the ball back if no passing opportunities presented themselves. The patient play worked as another dangerous ball was played down United’s right flank, M’Voto tried to shield the ball out but Evans showed great strength to win the ball back he broke into Oldham’s box and laid the ball off to on rushing LOWTON, as he netted the opening goal.
The game started to open up and moments later Cresswell and Lowton combined in a similar move but this time the Oldham defence managed to clear the ball. Jean Francois had looked comfortable in the centre back position but as Steve Simonsen tried to rush a short pass to the defender, Adeyemi caught the United player in possession and should have levelled for the visitors but saw his shot tipped over from Simonsen. Sadly, moments later Jean-Francois was to be stretchered off, after Kuqi chased a long ball forward, Harry Maguire made an excellent tackle and the big Oldham player seemed to fall on Jean-Francois. It was refreshing to see both Oldham fans and the home crowd give Jean-Francois a standing applause after several minutes on the floor and Jonny Ertl came on to fill his spot at Centre Back.
Moments later, United were again pressing and after Tarkowski managed to gain possession back from Cresswell in the Oldham box, he seemed to be in two minds on what to do. EVANS then pounced, stole the ball back, and hit a low but powerful shot into Oldham’s net. United were thoroughly in control of the game and created a few more efforts. Ryan Flynn volleyed over and Lee Williamson could not score his second goal in two games because his shot was successfully blocked. Despite Oldham creating a few chances, the majority of the play had been Sheffield United’s, as the home side looked fully in control at half time.
Evans started brightly again for the blades shooting just wide, but several key elements of United’s play seemed too pedestrian in the second half. Despite this United still created chances and should have been out of sight several times, even hitting the post from a Michael Doyle shot.
Again United’s pedestrian play continued and this time it was Ertl for the home side who was caught in possession. More chances were created by the home side but Oldham were starting to grow in confidence whilst the United players in the middle of the park and in defence made several errors and invited serious pressure.
Oldham pulled a goal back from a corner as RICHARD CRESSWELL committed himself to a diving header that hopelessly went wrong and found his own net. This goal seemed to mark a bizarre and crazy spell of the game as Matthew Lowton began to take the ball back to the centre spot, Chris Taylor of Oldham tried to wrestle the ball from him. The referee for some reason booked Lowton and then booked the instigator of the problem, Taylor, as well. Taylor was fortunate because the referee did not take action in the first half when he himself tried to time waste and throw the ball away as United had a free kick. The referee got a tongue-lashing from the home crowd.
United went on the attack and as Lowton drove forward, he over committed himself on the edge of the Oldham box as a poor touch sent the ball to the feet of an Oldham defender. It had to be a yellow, but the referee seemed like he was not going to take action against the defender. But yet again Chris Taylor got involved, again, and got in the referee’s face demanding action and this seemed to spark a decision, as the referee called Lowton back to a receive a second yellow card and an early bath. In all honesty, it should have been a yellow, yet the first incident should not have seen the United player in the book.
Oldham capitalised as Richard Cresswell was forced to take up a make shift right back, United allowed the ball to drop in their box and gave LEE far too much space as he turned and curled a lovely shot into the goal.
United’s ten men should have been back in front as good link up play from Quinn and Cresswell allowed Ched Evans to turn in Oldham’s box, but he hit his shot straight at Cisak and he caught the ball comfortably.
More pressure from United but Oldham‘s Chris Taylor picked the ball up outside of the his box, and threw himself to the floor, for a supposed tug from Ched Evans. Evans was frustrated and bizarrely the referee flashed the red card again but quickly rescinded it and gave Evans a yellow.
Oldham pressed the action now as United’s ten men tried to hold on for the draw. Will Hoskins was brought on for Stephen Quinn and moments later Andy Taylor of Sheffield United went down and was forced to go off the field of play with severe cramp. Ryan Flynn was forced to drop back to right back, and James Beattie replaced Taylor. Several United players were playing out of position and from the stands it was hard to tell how we lined up. It was clear Danny Wilson still wanted to try and win the game.
As 4 minutes of added time were raised, it was United again that could have won the game, as Evans fired over from a Williamson lay off from a free kick. He had more time and had he been composed Evans would have surely won the game for the United.
But with only 2 minutes remaining, the disastrous second half performance got worse as Mellor played a forward ball, Steve Simonsen hesitated on his line as Reid picked the ball up. Maguire for United took measures into his own hands and was adjudge to bring Reid down and a penalty was awarded, to the displeasure of the home fans. KUQI stepped up, to send Simonsen the wrong way, and take all 3 points home for Oldham.
It was a bizarre 30 minutes and as Sheffield United had been in complete control of the game and Oldham had looked a poor. Oldham hit back and took their opportunities as they arose, all credit to them, because Sheffield United second half performance was thoroughly unprofessional.
Sheffield United 2 – 3 Oldham Athletic