A glaring miss by the otherwise impressive ManUre loanee striker Frazier Campbell prevented successive three point hauls at Walton Street for the Tigers, which would have provided firm evidence of the magic ingredient for success at this level; consistency.
This was a solid performance but t’ Blades offered very little in front of goal, and apart from Stead’s clinical strike just before half time resulting from Ashbee switching off and failing to do a basic closing down job, United threatened little and City dominated possession throughout the game without really taking the game by the scruff of the neck.
The hubristic persistence with the dreaded 4-3-3, a nominal formation at the best of times and usually produced 4-5-1, has been dropped for the more traditional 4-4-2. But this has only served to highlight the problems down the left flank.
The form of the admirable Brown who provides solid leadership skills from centre back, has seen Delaney’s position usurped as Turner is the better foil for the former Colchester stopper, and now the Irishman seems to playing at left back because there is no one else. Dawson’s failings (distribution and crossing) mean that unless there is an injury crisis, his Tigers career is effectively over.
As well as a genuine left full back, any forays into the transfer market must surely focus on a left footed mid fielder, preferably an out and out winger. Elliot is out of favour, rightly so, and there now seems to be a make do and mend approach to this position. Bryan Hughes was tasked with it yesterday and although he was game, it seemed no coincidence that virtually no positive moves came from this flank. Indeed Hughes has a wretched game surrendering possession at will and failing to support Delaney with defensive duties. This resulted in United funnelling play when not in possession, down the right hand side, and Garcia plus the front two dropping off to forage being forced down blind alleys.
Parity was restored ten minutes into the second half when Campbell was felled, Windass converting the resulting spot kick, although I suspect the forward lost control of the ball and engineered the clash. Had it gone against City I would have felt hard done by.
Turner and Brown didn’t give former England International James Beattie a sniff and had the wiles of the injured Okocha been readily available (he gave a fitful under par cameo from the bench) then I feel we would have had that extra bit of quality to take maximum points.
City Line up: Myhill, Ricketts, Turner, Brown, Delaney, Garcia (Featherstone 83), Ashbee, Livermore (Okocha 72), Hughes, Campbell (McPhee 77), Windass.
Subs Not Used: Duke, Dawson. Att: 20,185