James Shield's Match Verdict: Bristol City 1Â Sheffield United 0
The Star's James Shield analyses the decisive moments of this afternoon's match at Ashton Gate as Sheffield United are beaten 1-0 by Bristol City.
Key Moment: It would be wrong to identify one key moment. Instead, there were three, arguably four, which helped changed the course of this game before City substitute Marley Watkins scored during the closing stages.
David McGoldrick played well but missed three excellent opportunities before the interval. Had United scored at that point of the game, when they were in control of the contest, they would have fancied themselves to go on and win.
But, after letting Lee Johnson's side off the hook, Chris Wilder's men paid the price when Watkins headed home.
Despite lacking their usual dynamism, this was not poor performance from the visitors. But the reasons behind their defeat will be all too familiar and frustrating for Wilder, having complained in the past United can be too generous.
Losing John Fleck to injury beforehand also robbed them of some drive in midfield.
Key Man: McGoldrick could, indeed should, have scored at least two goals before the interval. The former Ipswich Town attacker did everything well apart from finishing. It would be wrong to place the blame for this defeat at his feet but those wasted chances did prove costly.Â
How the Game was Won and Lost: It does not take Sherlock Holmes to deduce how United lost this match. They were far too profligate and far too generous in and around City's penalty area. City will also be pleased with the impact their substitutes, Watkins in particular, had on the game. Both clubs approached this meeting in excellent form so, given the respect they have for one another, it was probably to be expected that the action was dogged rather than swashbuckling.
Referee Watch: Unlike James Linington, who as John Lundstram and Jack Grealish can testify knows theÂ difference between physical contact and a foul, John Brooks was less inclined to let players slug it out.Â Oliver Norwood could have little complaint when he was cautioned for a slight but cynical foul midwayÂ through the first-half. Nevertheless, there were times when the match official could easily have turned aÂ blind eye instead of blowing his whistle immediately. Overall, it was a competent performance from BrooksÂ and his assistants who got the majority of the big calls right. But slightly too fussy for most people's taste.
Summary: Wilder spoke earlier this week about the importance of turning draws into wins and defeats into draws. So, watching his players waste some gilt-edged first half opportunities before conceding a late equaliser, he will leave Ashton Gate a very frustrated manager. City, who started brightly, rediscovered their form as the final whistle approach with Watkins scoring the only goal of the contest when he sent a looping heading sailing over Dean Henderson and inside United's far post. But Wilder's charges will be desperately disappointed not to have returned with a point. This was another reminder about the importance of being clinical against top end Championship teams. City, who replace United in third, are one of those.