Sheff Utd 1 Millwall 1: Match Report

Sheffield United vs Millwall. Utd's  Daniel Bogdanovic scores his penalty
Sheffield United vs Millwall. Utd's Daniel Bogdanovic scores his penalty
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CULT hero Bob Booker cajoled the crowd before kick-off.

Micky Adams consoled them after.

Sheffield United vs Millwall. Utd's Bassett & chairman Chris Steer, with Trevor Brich back row look on

Sheffield United vs Millwall. Utd's Bassett & chairman Chris Steer, with Trevor Brich back row look on

But it was Daniel Bogdanovic who delivered the most eloquent and, until Millwall’s last-gasp equaliser, effective demonstration of the qualities Sheffield United require to prevail in their battle for Championship survival.

With his languid style and lank, long hair, the Malta international, who won and then duly dispatched the penalty which appeared to have ended Adams’ wait for his first win since taking charge at Bramall Lane, is an unlikely standard-bearer for the manager’s campaign to instill a never-say-die approach.

But beneath Bogdonovic’s enigmatic exterior lurks a confident and determined streak which can be traced back to the days he spent forging a career in some of European football’s most hostile outposts.

“People play good money to come and watch us, money that some of them can not even afford,” said Bogdanovic. “So we have an obligation to show them respect and have pride in the shirt.

Utd's  Daniel Bogdanovic celebrates his goal

Utd's Daniel Bogdanovic celebrates his goal

“Everything that I’ve ever had I’ve had to work for. Every penny I’ve had was earned.

“When I was a kid I couldn’t afford boots and, as human beings, we should always remember where we’ve come from.

“Why should we fear anyone? If we are playing Millwall or Manchester United, we mustn’t be afraid.

“It is just 11 men. 11 men and 11 hearts. Exactly the same as us.

Utd's  Micky Adams

Utd's Micky Adams

“I’ve yet to come up against an opponent who has two.”

Nevertheless, Bogdanovic, a summer signing from Barnsley, continues to be employed in a supporting rather than starring role and emerged only when Ched Evans finally succumbed to the debilitating after-effects of gastroenteritis.

Adams expressed his irritation that the decision to withdraw United’s leading goalscorer received an unfavourable response from some sections of the ground - “I thought the message had got out that he’d been ill” - and said Bogdanovic had helped raise “the tempo of the game”.

Having urged his squad to accept “collective responsibility” for their perilous predicament in the table, Adams, whose side are now only three points shy of safety, will have been encouraged by Bogdanovic’s response to a question about being omitted from the starting line-up despite an impressing at Ipswich a week before.

Millwall's Kevin Lisbie Hammers home the late lions goal

Millwall's Kevin Lisbie Hammers home the late lions goal

“I’m never happy when I’m not playing but I respect Micky’s decision. I’m here to do my bit whether that be from the first minute or in the last,” he said.

“If I was dropped then maybe there was something in my previous performance that the manager didn’t like or was not good enough. Whatever the situation, though, I will always give my all.”

United, who introduced their former midfielder Booker, and Adams’ new consultant, Dave Bassett, before kick-off, saw Marcus Bent and Marcus Yeates foiled by Millwall goalkeeper David Forde during the opening exchanges, Yeates unleashing a perfectly-executed first-time shot after thundering a free-kick into the wall.

But Kenny Jackett, surely one of the competition’s most under-rated exponents of the managerial art, has fashioned a resilient team at The New Den and the visitors responded when Theo Robinson forced a smart save from Steve Simonsen.

Bogdanovic, combining well with fellow substitute Richard Cresswell, had already shown some delicate touches when a change of movement inside the box tempted Millwall captain Paul Robinson into an ill-advised challenge.

Jackett thought referee Darren Deadman’s interpretation of events was harsh - “It was a soft penalty ” - but Bogdanovic - “He tried to get the ball and came across me” - insisted otherwise and made no mistake from the spot.

Utd's  Micky Adams gives a hans to Ched Evans as he comes off

Utd's Micky Adams gives a hans to Ched Evans as he comes off

Cresswell came agonisingly close to doubling United’s advantage with a diving header and when Simonsen acrobatically palmed Kevin Lisbie’s low drive around the post their triumph seemed assured.

But, from the resulting corner, the Millwall substitute drilled home when James Henry’s centre wreaked havoc.

Adams, who revealed Jamie Ward had been granted leave of absence after becoming a father, admitted set-pieces are fast becoming United’s “Achilles heel”.

“We were so close,” he said. “I thought we’d seen it out and that we’d done enough to win.

“The fans got behind us and sooner or later something has got to drop for us.

“Once again there was nothing wrong with the spirit or application. But we do need to show greater desire in both boxes.”

Bogdanovic, who is waiting to discover whether his exploits will be rewarded with a rare start, against Reading, tomorrow, agreed.

“It’s technical mistakes that are costing us. But, as far as I’m concerned, the performance and the attitude was fine.

“Unfortunately that’s been the story of our season and, no excuses, we must to better.

“We can’t keep conceding goals and, going forward, we must also hold the ball up better.

“But, at the end of the day, with the teams above us losing then we must view this as a positive result.”

Boss’s View

Sooner or later something has got to drop for us. I thought our performance was good but, being honest, I’d rather have a win than that. I thought Neill Collins and Shane Lowry, our two centre-halves, were magnificent. I thought we’d done enough to have got the victory. But at least we put ourselves in a winning position for once rather than finding ourselves having to come from behind and chase the game.