James Shield’s Match Analysis: How Sheffield United’s game against Leeds United unfolded

James Shield's Match Analysis
James Shield's Match Analysis

Sheffield United presented Leeds with their first win at Bramall Lane since the early Nineties, when a combination of defensive errors allowed Pablo Hernandez to slide home into an empty net during the closing stages.

The Star's James Shield analyses the key moments and main talking points of today's game.

Key Moment: The game was heading towards a draw, which on the balance of play would probably have been the fairest outcome of all, when John Egan overhit a back pass, Dean Henderson got himself into a mix trying to deal with it and Pablo Hernandez was presented with his seventh and easiest goal of the season. Last weekend, when his team conceded a last gasp equaliser at Rotherham, Chris Wilder urged his team to stop compounding mistakes with more mistakes but that is exactly what happened here. Conor Washington hit the crossbar in added time as United searched for an equaliser.

Key Man: Chris Basham caused Leeds all sorts of problems, particularly during the opening exchanges, with his barnstorming runs forward from centre-half. Bought to play in midfield four years ago, the former Blackpool and Bolton Wanderers player is completely re-writing the way people think about playing his position in a three man defence. As you would expect, given the tactical nous on the visitors' bench, Leeds coped better as the match progressed. But Basham is fast emerging as one of the most influential members of United's starting eleven. David McGoldrick also performed well at both ends of the pitch but his finishing again left a little to be desired. If he was sharper in front of goal, McGoldrick would be worth an absolute fortune.

How the Game was Lost: There is no need for an hour long inquest or any in-depth, forensic analysis when answering this question. But long before the defensive howler which led to Leeds' goal, United had opportunities to take the lead, most notably when Billy Sharp saw a header bounce over the crossbar during the closing stages of the first-half and, early in the second, when David McGoldrick saw a shot scrambled clear by Bailey Peacock-Farrell. The Leeds goalkeeper looked vulnerable under pressure and high balls all afternoon. United tried to exploit this weakness in his game and the opposition's defence but to no avail. Perhaps they could have cranked-up the pressure even more.

Referee Watch: Oliver Langford's performance came under scrutiny, particularly during the first-half, when some commentators suggested both David McGoldrick and Enda Stevens could have been sent-off. Certainly McGoldrick's challenge on Liam Cooper, who was forced off as a result, was poor. Even though no malice appeared to be intended. In any case, the position of the two players meant it was impossible for Langford to enjoy a clear view of the incident. Unlike television pundits, he did not enjoy the benefit of replays. Having already been cautioned, Stevens was fortunate to escape another yellow just before the interval. But his second tackle, which went unpunished, was actually worse than the first which, at first glance, did not seem worthy of a booking. Langford, it must also be noted, received plenty of bad advice from his assistants too. There have been some fine officiating at Bramall Lane of late. This was not one of those days.

Summary: Chris Wilder thought his team had edged the game but that a draw would have been a more accurate result. Marcelo Bielsa thought his team had edged the game but that, if the fixture had finished all square, "we could not have complained." The Argentine also admitted United had caused "a lot" of problems with their inventive approach, citing David McGoldrick, Oliver Norwood and Chris Basham as particular threats. Wilder insisted his club should be "nowhere near" the top six given the resources at their disposal. But the fact is they are and, if they want to stay there, the type of innovative thinking which impressed Bielsa will be crucial.