Sheffield United: The pivotal moments of Saturday’s match at AFC Bournemouth
The Star’s Sheffield United writer James Shield selects his highlight and lowlight from Saturday’s match Premier League draw with AFC Bournemouth.
Billy Sharp's late equaliser ensured Sheffield United celebrated their return to the Premier League with a point, following an encouraging display at AFC Bournemouth. The hosts, embarking upon their fifth consecutive season as a top-flight club, had earlier taken the lead through Chris Mepham. But after being introduced as a substitute, Sharp prodded the home with only two minutes of normal time remaining, sparking wonderful scenes both on the pitch and in the stand where he raced to celebrate with the travelling support. A lifelong United supporter, the centre-forward's strike was just reward for both his team's persistence and tactical discipline. It was also a deeply personal moment too, with Sharp scoring his first ever goal in the competition for the club he has followed since childhood. And, given his role in their promotions from League One and the Championship, a reminder Sharp has no intention of being content with a peripheral role this term.
Clean sheets will be difficult for United to come by this term, given the array of attacking talent teams who have already established themselves at the highest level can call upon. AFC Bournemouth, for example, selected England international Callum Wilson and Joshua King, capped 40 times by Norway, up front at The Vitality Stadium on Saturday afternoon. So in a sense, Mepham's effort was not the lowlight for Chris Wilder's side. Instead, that came midway through the opening period when, having missed a chance to take an early lead through David McGoldrick, they found themselves struggling to retain possession and being hustled into mistakes by the strength of the opposition's 'press'. However, as United's manager later acknowledged, some nerves were inevitable given the visitors were making their first appearance at the highest level for 12 years.