Sheffield United: James Shield's player-ratings from Blades 3, Preston North End 2

David McGoldrick's late winner ensured Sheffield United took maximum points from a game they should have won much more comfortably.

Saturday, 22nd September 2018, 5:55 pm
Updated Saturday, 22nd September 2018, 6:02 pm
James Shield's Sheffield United player-ratings against Preston North End

Leading 2-0 and in full control thanks to goals from Billy Sharp and Chris Basham, they switched off and allowed Preston to restore parity before the former Ipswich Town attacker pounced. The Star's James Shield analyses how Chris Wilder's players performed.

Sheffield United:

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Dean Henderson 6: Spent most of the afternoon watching a match take place at the opposite end of the pitch as Preston massed players behind the ball. But, constantly organising and barking orders to those in front of him, the goalkeeper still made his presence felt. Especially with his wild celebrations following the winning goals.

Chris Basham 8: Supposedly a player whose game is built on effort, Basham has plenty of skill too. Left Tom Barkhuizen flailing aimlessly with a lovely turn moments before scoring the goal his performance deserved from Oliver Norwood's set-piece. 

John Egan 7: Has become a really solid and dependable presence at the heart of United's rearguard after adjusting to the demands of a three man defence. Never fancy but nearly always effective, Egan also pressed forward when the opportunity arose.

Jack O'Connell 7:  Made a great block to prevent a shot from Darnell Fisher troubling Dean Henderson towards the end of the first-half. Proof, despite the modern game's fascination with bringing the ball out from the back, there is still a place for 'proper' defending.

Enda Stevens 7: Charged up and down the left flank all afternoon and, after a few scares at the beginning of his career, has now improved his defensive qualities too. These became evident when he produced a perfectly timed tackle to stop Fisher in his tracks midway through the second period.

Kieron Freeman 7:  There was a period, towards the end of the first-half, when Preston were defending so deeply he spent a good two minutes supporting Billy Sharp and David McGoldrick in attack. One of those players whose qualities really become evident whenever he is absent.

Oliver Norwood 7: The thinking man's footballer, Norwood could well turn out to be the bargain of the season in the Championship this term. Keeps play moving and dictates the tempo but it is his delivery from set-pieces which has brought an extra dimension to United's play.

John Fleck 8:  The Scot's performance will not earn him many headlines but it was beautifully simple. He tackled hard, showed good positional sense and his distribution was excellent. What more could you want, other than a goal, from a midfielder?

Mark Duffy 7: Not the Liverpudlian's best display for United but, given Preston's approach during the opening exchanges, his contribution was vital. Constantly on the move and demanding the ball, he ensured the visiting defenders could never truly settle.

Billy Sharp 7:  He starts. He scores. At the start of the last two seasons, United's captain has been told he is either too old, too slow or both to produce at Championship level. But, having now scored 19 goals in his last 46 outings, Sharp keeps having the last laugh.

David McGoldrick 8: Once again, played well. But, until scoring the winning goal, once again appeared to have left his shooting boots at home after dragging a good chance beyond both Chris Maxwell and the far post. Given quality of  the former Ipswich Town attacker's all-round game, if he can begin hitting the target on a regular basis, United will have some player on their hands.

Substitutes: Marvin Johnson (for Sharp, 75) Leon Clarke (for Duffy, 85)  Richard Stearman (for McGoldrick, 90) 

Not used: Simon moore, John Lundstrajm, Ben Woodburn, Conor Washington.