Sheffield United: Heartbreak for The Blades as Huddersfield Town prolong their Championship agony with last gasp winner
“Saturday afternoon, it’s August, it’s drizzling, it’s lovely and unbelievable,” the pre-match host boomed over the Bramall Lane tannoy, moments before someone upstairs turned the taps on full.
In other words, with a near 30,000 strong crowd inside the stadium, it was football as we know it.
Unfortunately for Sheffield United, the result was depressingly familiar too as Levi-Samuels-Colwill’s late, late finish left them still searching for their first win since being relegated back to the Championship.
“Of course, it’s a really hard moment for us,” manager Slavisa Jokanovic said, after watching substitute Billy Sharp cancel out Josh Koroma’ opener in added time. “We felt we could go on and win. It’s tough but we must go on.”
Less than 72 hours after being humiliated by West Brom - something which Chris Basham later conceded had provoked “a few words” in the dressing room - this match was an opportunity for United to respond. They did to a degree; looking much purposeful during the first hour of a contest they controlled for long spells.
But the longer Huddersfield Town held them out, the more the visitors grew in stature. And the more the lack of confidence Jokanovic believes is handicapping United became apparent, as Koromo exploited a lapse in defensive concentration before Sharp and Samuels-Colwill traded efforts.
The teenager’s strike, as the hosts’ appealed for a flag, will only prolong the healing process.
His patience already wearing thin with United’s slow progress in the transfer market - only one new signing has been completed since his appointment in May - last week’s 4-0 reverse at The Hawthorns had clearly tested Jokanovic’s tolerance levels too. Ben Davies, acquired on loan from Liverpool, made his first appearance for the hosts in a starting eleven which also included Rhian Brewster, Oli McBurnie and Rhys Norrington-Davies; making his Championship debut for the club four years after enrolling at the Steelphalt Academy.
In terms of United’s general demeanor, Jokanovic’s selections had the desired effect. Nevertheless, despite going about their business with much more conviction than they have displayed of late, United struggled to translate possession and pressure into openings. Or goals.
McBurnie forced a scrambling save from Lee Nicholls on the stroke of the interval with an overhead kick. But other than that, an Oliver Norwood set-piece, again thwarted by the Town goalkeeper, was the closest United came to breaking the deadlock.
Still, Berge was finally beginning to resemble a player who cost £22m. Behind him, Davies’ composure and positional sense reminded why he had piqued Jurgen Klopp’s interest despite failing to make the breakthrough on Merseyside.
The momentum initially remained with United after the break, although Koromo let them off the hook when he shot wide following a rare mistake by Berge. Norrington-Davies also excelled himself when, having seen his team mates over-elaborate, he cleaned up the mess they had got themselves into.
Foderingham thought he had done the same when Koroma was left unmarked with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining, saving the former Leyton Orient attacker’s shot with his foot. But Koroma made no mistake at the second attempt, before Sharp’s superb cameo - rolling his defender from McBurnie’s knockdown - seemed to have earned United a point. Samuels-Colwill, though, had other ideas.