Sheffield United beaten as Huddersfield Town and Neil Warnock complete great escape
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But it was a moment of artistry, not phenomenal industry, which saw Huddersfield Town claim the win which ensured they will remain in the division for another year at least.
“It was evident, after the break, that there was one team that really needed it,” Paul Heckingbottom said, before paying tribute to his legendary predecessor. “I’ve been waiting for that. They were maxing out."
The visitors made the short hop north already assured of promotion and Premier League status next term. But Heckingbottom, who was midway through his playing career when Warnock achieved the same feat at Bramall Lane, still cut a bitterly disappointed figure at the final whistle after Danny Ward’s phenomenal effort settled the contest.
Had United needed the win, they would almost certainly have translated their early supremacy into a commanding lead. But they didn’t. Which provided their opponents with enough encouragement to deliver the result they required to send Reading down alongside Wigan and Blackpool.
“If you wanted to get out of that situation,” Heckingbottom added, “Neil is who you would turn to.”
United’s coaching staff had spent the first part of the week eulogising about Daniel Jebbison, describing him as someone with the potential to become a force at the highest level. So it was no surprise when the teenage centre-forward appeared in the starting eleven which Heckingbottom sent into battle against Warnock’s men.
There was a glimpse into what United hope will be the future when Jebbison dovetailed perfectly with Iliman Ndiaye. The Senegal international, profiting from his fellow striker’s powerful run and back heel, attempted to caress the ball around Lee Nicholls but a touch from a defender removed the power from his shot.
Jebbison’s physical presence provided United with an outlet which could prove invaluable next term.
He remains a gem in need of considerable polishing, however. Again the very best defences in the country, the type of chances Jebbison spurned during the opening period will need to be taken.
Still, despite seeing him fail to convert a one on one with Nicholls and badly mistime a header from a George Baldock cross, Heckingbottom knows he possesses a player of considerable potential. That was nearly fulfilled, following a clever turn by Sander Berge, when Jebbison was inches away from scoring what would have been a memorable opener; deftly flicking a volley just wide of the far post.
United, who suffered an early set-back when Max Lowe was forced off by injury, His replacement, Enda Stevens, was featuring for the first time since the beginning of January and was later withdrawn himself.
Midway through the first-half, which saw United dominated, Jebbison appeared set to pounce on a loose ball and power into the box only to lose his footing as he attempted to change direction.
Ward, scoring for the fifth time this season, suffered no such misfortune when he swept a majestic finish past Wes Foderingham and into the far corner of United’s net.