Sheffield United: James Shield analyses the key points of today's match against Preston North End

Sheffield United survived a huge scare, throwing away a two goal lead before David McGoldrick's last gasp winner, as they climbed to fourth in the Championship table.

Saturday, 22nd September 2018, 6:00 pm
Updated Sunday, 23rd September 2018, 8:23 am

Billy Sharp and Chris Basham appeared to have put Chris Wilder's side in complete control until Preston North End punished some careless play in ruthless fashion; Daniel Johnson and Callum Robinson restoring parity.

But McGoldrick, who had earlier dragged a good chance wide, ensured United prevailed when he converted from close range. The Star's James Shield highlights the key moments and big talking points, from the match.

Key moment: For many paying supporters, the most important decision of the afternoon came long before kick-off when, for reasons which seem impossible to fathom, United were asked to stage a home game on the same day thousands of Sheffield Hallam students moved into their new accommodation; much of which surrounds the stadium.

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It caused chaos on the roads and, when the match kicked-off on time, meant many spectators were still outside.

Surely the authorities, including Sheffield City Council and the university itself, can help United petition the English Football League to ensure the situation is not repeated again? 

Assuming, of course, a football fan's voice counts. 

Key man: Basham, who was handed the captain's armband when Sharp was withdrawn after the break, has matured into a key player for United in recent seasons.

Both on and off the pitch. With Preston hauling everyone back when the the hosts pressed forward, his runs from deep gave United's midfielder more options and helped drag defenders out of position.

His goal, a header from Oliver Norwood's set-piece, was expertly taken.

How the game was won: After being dragged into the trenches by Birmingham City on Wednesday, Preston arrived with a similar game plan; launching the odd attack forward but, for the most part, packing men behind the ball whenever United pressed.

This made it absolutely vital Wilder's team scored first and, in the 37th minute, Sharp ensured they did before Basham stretched their advantage. United, who later threatened to undo all their hard work, moved the ball quicker, sharper and with more intelligence than against the visitors from St Andrews.

Referee watch: Scott Duncan's maths might have gone awry - six minutes of added time seemed mighty generous given the second-half flowed much better than the first, when only one was awarded - but the official otherwise impressed. Let players tackle and warned the opposition about some early time wasting. 

Overall, it was a good day for the man in the middle.

Summary: United very nearly threw the game away when, after establishing a 2-0 lead, they conceded twice in quick succession before McGoldrick's late winner.

They deserved to take all three points but were in danger of being forced to settle for growing complacent.

Preston, despite their position at the foot of the table, were still good enough to punish this change in attitude. So why did United switch off?

The answer is they were in complete control and, rather than continuing in the same fashion, began to play like they knew it.

Wilder will be delighted they won, delighted with their ability to come back but downright furious they nearly threw it all away. In the long-run, this could turn-out to be a pivotal moment in United's season; ensuring they never switch off again.