Sheffield United 2 Norwich City 1: Billy provides Sharp end to game for Blades after reaching cross-Rhodes

This time there was no obvious, pent up frustration; no broadsides at Norwich City, their manners or even their bus driver.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 19th August 2018, 11:39 am
Updated Sunday, 19th August 2018, 7:55 pm
Billy Sharp celebrates his winner
Billy Sharp celebrates his winner

Instead, as Chris Wilder marched breathlessly up to Bramall Lane’s media suite following Billy Sharp’s injury-time winner on Saturday, the Sheffield United manager preferred to focus on his team.

And, more specifically, his celebration as skipper Sharp sealed a deserved 2-1 win and got United up and running at Bramall Lane this season.

“There have been some cruel results here in the last 12 months, so it’s about time we got a last-minute winner to reverse the roles,” Wilder said.

“It was a bit frustrating again because the best chances fell our way, but there’s nothing better than a last minute winner for everybody and I’m delighted it’s gone our way.

“You could see down there on the touchline I was living it, and I’ve been living it 24/7 for two years now. That’s how it is and I don’t have to apologise to anyone for the way I act and behave.

“This is my club, my team and my players. It’s been a tough old couple of weeks because we haven’t started how we’d have liked to, but to turn it around away at QPR and then win a tight game against Norwich shows what we’re all about.

Dean Henderson takes in the moment with Richard Stearman

“I don’t have to apologise for my celebration and it wasn’t anything against their manager, who’s a good guy.

“It’s the elation of being involved at a football club like this, and scoring a last-minute winner.”

When Sharp’s goal arrived, deep into the three minutes added on, Bramall Lane erupted but, in truth, it was nothing more than United deserved.

Chris Basham’s searching long-ball was cleverly knocked back across the face of goal by substitute David McGoldrick, leaving Sharp the straightforward task of bundling home his third goal of the week.

Oli Norwood was again man of the match

Crucially, it rendered on-loan Wednesday man Jordan Rhodes’ earlier equaliser irrelevant in the context of the result. Rhodes, who was predictably booed before kick off, celebrated in front of the Kop after tapping home from similar range to Sharp but slunk off at the final whistle, much to the joy of the supporters he had earlier antagonised.

Apart from his goal, owing as much to his own clever movement as Onel Hernandez’s clever turn and cross, Rhodes barely touched the ball and held his hands up afterwards, admitting he was partly culpable for United’s opening goal.

It was centre-half John Egan who got it, heading home the excellent Oli Norwood’s pin-point corner via some assistance from goalline technology, and capped a superb display from the Republic of Ireland international - by a distance his best game in the red and white of United after joining for a club record £4m from Brentford.


John Egan earlier put United ahead

After Norwich’s gamesmanship antics last season, which led to Wilder’s extraordinary press conference after the game where he criticised the Canaries’ manners, antics and approach, an early goal was vital and arrived from the head of Egan, who kept his place in the starting line-up with Richard Stearman dropping to the bench.

Fellow new-boy Norwood orchestrated it with a superb drilled corner for Egan to attack, his header crossing the line despite Tom Trybull’s attempts to head it away.

Norwood was named man of the match for the second time in as many games since arriving from Brighton and Wilder said: “Oli coming into the group makes us better and his set-pieces and quality on the ball is one aspect of that.

“I thought John was excellent in general with his overall play and is going to score goals for us.

“As is Jack O’Connell, and we need to from set-plays. When the delivery is as good as that, it gives us a great opportunity.”


Before Sharp’s vital intervention though, and for all United’s attacking dominance, City did have chances to win the game themselves.

Rhodes hit the inside of the post with a second-half header, and United goalkeeper Dean Henderson made a magnificent save, despite being outnumbered three-on-one, to deny Moritz Leitner with his body when the assistant referee failed to flag, despite the German appearing at least five yards offside.

Henderson, who it is fair to say is enjoying life at Bramall Lane, celebrated the save as if it were a goal and then celebrated Sharp’s goal as if it had won the league.

Home supporters responded with their chant mocking Norwich’s time-wasting antics here last season, but this was a victory achieved playing football the United way.

“I enjoy any goal we score,” Wilder said.

“Sometimes you enjoy some more than others of course and it’s going to be a bit tasty when we go to Norwich.

“I got a bit of stick from their fans but I’m not bothered what they think. This is my football club and if we lose the next ten games and get the sack, I will still be celebrating last-minute winners here.”

Sheff Utd: Henderson; Freeman (McGoldrick 61), Basham, Egan, O’Connell, Stevens; Norwood, Fleck, Woodburn (Leonard 46); Clarke, Sharp (Stearman 90+4). Unused subs: Moore (GK), Lundstram, Lafferty, Moore, Lavery

Norwich: Krul: Marshall, Hanley, Klose, Lewis; Tettey (Godfrey 90+2), Trybull; Pukki (Srbeny 87), Leitner (Stiepermann 78), Hernandez; Rhodes. Unused subs: McGovern (GK), Zimmermann, Thompson, Aarons