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Match report: Sheffield United 1 Colchester 1

Harry Maguire celebrates his equaliser for Sheffield United

Harry Maguire celebrates his equaliser for Sheffield United

  • by James Shield Sheffield United
 

It took over a decade to complete the Mona Lisa.

Had Leonardo da Vinci’s business been football rather than fine art, he would have been expected to complete his masterpiece by the end of last week.

This result, which was greeted with murmurings of frustration by some sections of Sheffield United’s support, served to remind that David Weir’s team remain a work in progress.

But Lyle Taylor, who thought he had snatched a last minute winner only to see the ‘goal’ controversially disallowed for offside, insisted they will not shy away from confronting the issues which must be addressed in order for them to become a team opponents fear and supporters admire.

“We’re a long way away from being where we want to be right now,” the former Falkirk centre-forward, said. “But there’s a lot of change going on and so that was always going to be the case.

“We know we’ve got to improve everything that we do but we’re moving in the right direction and working really hard behind the scenes to make sure we get there sooner rather than later.

“Being honest with ourselves is a crucial part of that. And we’re all very honest with each other here.

“If someone isn’t doing their job properly then they are told. They’re told by the rest of the lads in the dressing room but that’s the way it’s got to be. That’s the only way you improve.

“It’s not just about the 11 players who begin a game. That goes for the whole group 20, 30 or whatever players.”

Taylor, appearing for only the fourth time since arriving at Bramall Lane this summer, emphasised the point by delivering a brutally frank critique of his own performance against visitors who departed still unbeaten in League One competition but having conceded their first goal.

“I thought I started slowly and that affected the rest of the lads,” he continued. “You need a presence up front right from the off to make an impact and I failed to provide that.

“It took getting dragged down by their centre-half to get me going so that wasn’t good enough. You’ve got to look at yourself. You’ve got to look at your own performance before you criticise anyone else and and, although I did get going, I didn’t think mine was good enough so that’s something I’ve got to work on.”

“The manager here has shown a lot of faith in me,” Taylor added. “He’s backed me by putting me in the team and now it’s up to me to repay him for that by producing.

“I know I’ve got plenty of work to do. I don’t deny that.

“But I’ve also got a lot of belief in myself so I’ll get there.”

Those words, despite painting an overly bleak picture of United’s performance, will be music to Weir’s ears following his admission that creating “the right state of mind” is of critical importance if they are to translate wise words into points.

Having fallen behind to a goal the former Scotland international later attributed to a “touch of naivety” - Freddie Sears exploiting a defensive miscalculation only seconds after Colchester had cleared a corner - United dragged themselves level when Sam Walker, on loan from Chelsea, fumbled Harry Maguire’s long-range shot.

But Joe Dunne, who predicted Weir’s charges “will be there or thereabouts come the end of the season,” confessed visits to United no longer fill his charges with dread.

“We’re used to coming here now,” Dunne said. “We know what it’s all about.

“Our last two matches here had ended in 3-0 defeats for us. I told everyone beforehand that I was sick and tired of coming to Sheffield United just to enjoy a ‘big day out.’

“We came up the night before and stayed in a city centre hotel.

“And that definitely paid off. It’s a good result for us because it’s come against what we know is a really good club that is going to be right up there.”

Sears opened the scoring when Sanchez Watt noticed United, who welcomed Tony McMahon back from injury, had committed too many men forward as they attacked a set-piece. Walker had his head in his hands when Maguire’s effort bobbled into the back of his net but the Colchester goalkeeper recovered his poise to twice deny Taylor as United, with Febian Brandy again impressing in attack, began to find their rhythm.

Weir acknowledged that “becoming a little more exciting in the final third” is the next task on United’s agenda ahead of Saturday’s derby with Bradford City.

Taylor, deployed as a lone centre-forward, finally beat Walker with a sweeping low drive after Brandy and substitute Jasper Johns combined on the edge of Colchester’s penalty area but the assistant referee intervened.

“It’s not an easy job playing up front on your own but that’s the way the modern game is going and it’s the right thing to do,” Taylor, who argued the goal should have stood, said. “It’s part and parcel of my job.

“And anyway, ask the lads at the back if it’s easy marking someone like Jabo. Ask the midfielders if they have it easy.

“They don’t. There is no hiding place for anyone out there on the pitch so no complaints from me.”

 

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