Sheffield United 0, Norwich City 1: Wilder sent to the stands as Blades' winning run comes to an end
Chris Wilder was sent to the stands as Sheffield United were beaten by Norwich City at Bramall Lane this afternoon.
The United manager received his marching orders after encroaching into the opposition's technical area to retrieve the ball just past the hour mark.
Wilder must now wait to discover if referee Scott Duncan mentions the incident in his match report ahead of next weekend's derby against Sheffield Wednesday.
Already angered by City's time-wasting tactics and theatrics following Yanic Wildschut's goal, Wilder's frustration will have been heightened by the fact United, suffering their first home defeat of the Championship season, deserved to take something from this game.
David Brooks, despite fading during the closing stages, justified his selection with some delightful touches and twice the Steelphalt Academy graduate went close to grabbing a goal.
City deserve credit for their preparation and shape. But their constant injury-feigning, particularly after the interval, did them no credit at all. Duncan, who incurred the wrath of the home crowd following the final whistle, also endured a match to forget. Wilder, missing captain Billy Sharp, Clayton Donaldson and Leon Clarke, will be disappointed with the final result but proud of the tenacity his players showed.
Daniel Farke, the City manager, had warned his team that United would play with "a high intensity, aggressiveness and a big togetherness" after beginning the campaign in encouraging fashion. They obliged in terms of the latter but, during the early exchanges, appeared unusually hesitant and careless at the back. Whether that was down to their own psychological state after being rocked by two more injury blows before kick-off, the visitors' own tactics or a combination of both will remain open to debate. Either way, Farke's men made sure they took full advantage when Wildschut edged them in front midway through the first period.
The scoreline, though, was a poor reflection of United's contribution - they actually appeared to be the more enterprising of the two sides - but it did underline the importance of turning pressure into goals.
They spent the entirety of the contest thereafter pressing, chasing and harassing but to no avail.
Evans, making his first start for United since April 2012, had earlier told the club's official match programme that he was delaying surgery to help Wilder through a selection crisis.
"I'm in pain but I'm assured the situation isn't getting any worse," the Wales international, who has been troubled by ankle problems since returning to Bramall Lane during the close season, said. "I'm happy to carry on through the next few weeks knowing that it won't be long before I can show what I can do on the pitch."
As it turned out, Evans only had to wait two minutes for an opportunity to do exactly that but, intelligently drifting away from the six yard box to meet a corner, his header flew straight at Angus Gunn. Brooks also tested the goalkeeper's handling after leaving Alex Tettey trailing in his wake before a delightful interchange between the two striker's, instigated by Paul Coutts, forced Christoph Zimmermann to make a desperate block. It was a scrambled but crucial intervention as, in the 23rd minute, Wildschut fired City ahead after being afforded far too much space on the left hand side of United's penalty area.
It was a lesson to United, who had actually applied some strong pressure and encouraging moves, that sometimes it is best to shoot on sight rather than try to score the 'perfect' goal.
The response came in the shape of attempts by Evans and Brooks, both of which were smothered, just before the break.
John Fleck let fly from long-distance in the 49th minute but, once again, Gunn was well-positioned to save. Although the Scot failed to drag United level, his effort did prove the catalyst for a sustained period of pressure which lasted for much of the second-half. It did not, however, deliver a breakthrough.
Sheffield United: Blackman, O'Connell, Wright, Basham, Freeman (Baldock 86), Stevens (Thomas 74) , Coutts, Fleck, Duffy (Carruthers 73), Evans, Brooks. Not used: Baldock, Lundstram, Thomas, Carter-Vickers, Lafferty, Eastwood, Carruthers.
Norwich City: Gunn, Pinto, Zimmermann, Jerome, Murphy (Husband 60), Klose, Wildschut (Watkins 78), Stiepermann, Trybull, Maddison (Hanley 86), Tettey. Not used: Reed, Vrancic, Watkins, Hoolahan, McGovern.
Referee: Scott Duncan (Tyne and Wear).