Paul Heckingbottom bemoans Sheffield United's poor start in 2-0 defeat to Crystal Palace

Sheffield United were behind the eight-ball almost from the start of their game against Crystal Palace this afternoon, boss Paul Heckingbottom has admitted after the Blades stuttered to another defeat at Bramall Lane.

Saturday, 8th May 2021, 5:53 pm

United went behind after just 66 seconds when Palace’s star man Ebere Eze sauntered through their defence and squared for Christian Benteke to finish past Aaron Ramsdale, via a heavy deflection off George Baldock.

United defenders John Egan and Chris Basham then missed good chances to get United back into the game, and Heckingbottom felt Sander Berge was too honest in staying on his feet after being clipped by Tyrick Mitchell in the Palace box as he raced away.

Teenage striker Daniel Jebbison was introduced off the bench for his senior debut in a bid to get the Blades back on level terms. But Eze put the game to bed when he ran half the length of the field and beat Ramsdale, again with the help of a deflection – this time off John Fleck.

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Who is Daniel Jebbison, the young Sheffield United striker who made his Blades debut against Crystal Palace?

And Heckingbottom was left to bemoan his side’s disastrous start.

“Conceding in the first 90 seconds just set the game up,” he admitted after the game.

“When you’re where we are and have to fight for everything, to concede that early knocked the stuffing out of us.

Sheffield United's players react after Ebere Eze put Crystal Palace 2-0 ahead at Bramall Lane: Darren Staples / Sportimage

“Then with how good they are on the counter, it set the game up and it took us a long time to recover and get a foothold in the game.”

United have now lost 11 of their last 13 games and are a side cripplingly low on self-confidence and belief, as well as the ability to arrest their alarming slump in fortunes.

Asked if there was a sense of wishing the season was over already, Heckingbottom admitted: “The feeling’s been there for weeks and weeks, it’s something I can’t stand and don’t like.

“I think you’re always playing for something and for your future. There’s a lot that can be learned, about the players and for the players.

“Why we’re in this situation. It is tough, but you have to still attack it and the boys showed a willingness to fight and an honesty.”