Sheffield United: Another all too familiar tale at Bramall Lane as Blackpool snatch a win
Sheffield United missed all their chances, the opposition didn’t and Lys Mousset succumbed to injury.
Who says the Championship is football’s most unpredictable division? Because right now, as Slavisa Jokanovic’s side remain bedevilled by inconsistency, things seem to be following a pretty formulaic script at not so beautiful downtown Bramall Lane.
Keshi Anderson’s late strike, after United had created plenty but taken nothing, propelled Blackpool to their first victory in this corner of South Yorkshire since 1977. It lifted Neil Critchley’s men to sixth in the rankings. United, who have not won back to back games since January, are languishing in 17th.
Leaving the pitch to a smattering of boos, the hosts knew things should have been different. Iliman Ndiaye’s performance, particularly during the first-half, provided them with something positive to take from a contest which again exposed the flaws which exist within Jokanovic’s squad. But like Mousset, Morgan Gibbs-White and Ben Osborn, making his 50th league appearance since leaving Tuesday’s opponents Nottingham Forest, the youngster failed to translate that enterprising work into the goal United deserved until the unravelled following Anderson’s intervention.
There was a surprise, albeit a pleasant one, when Jokanovic unveiled his selections for the game. Lys Mousset, who has spent so long on the treatment table since joining United he probably has his own personalised pillow, started in attack after recovering from a calf problem. Even though it had been described as “minor”, folk could be forgiven for suspecting the centre-forward was set for another period on the sidelines. Instead, with coaching staff apparently encouraged by his new-found professionalism, Mousset was handed an opportunity to build on his explosive display against Barnsley six days earlier where he scored two of United’s three goals during a 3-2 triumph at Oakwell.
Mousset hit the woodwork before later hobbing off the pitch. But it was his fellow Frenchman, Ndiaye, who came within an offside flag of giving United the early lead they craved. The youngster headed home from point blank range after a corner had been recycled. But the effort was ruled-out and Ndiaye’s celebrations were cut short. A case of close but not Gitanes.
The same went for Blackpool midday through the opening period, when only Robin Olsen’s agility and excellent reactions prevented Josh Bowler’s free-kick sneaking in at the far post.
As the interval approached, so United’s tempo and precision improved. They engineered several opportunities, with Ndiaye cutting the ball back for Mousset and Gibbs-White, returning from suspension, sending the youngster darting through. But neither could produce a finish to trouble Daniel Grimshaw. Likewise, when Gibbs-White’s impudent flick from the edge of the box flew straight at the former Manchester City youngster. Or immediately after the break, which saw the on-loan midfielder draw an even better block from Grimshaw, seconds before Mousset thundered a shot against the crossbar.
Blackpool’s bench were growing increasingly agitated as the pressure on their team increased. But the visitors have learnt how to survive difficult periods, arriving in South Yorkshire searching for their seventh win in 10 outings.
They found it with a little over 10 minutes remaining when Anderson swept home an unstoppable shot after checking inside Enda Stevens and working the ball onto his favoured foot.