Stalemate At Bramall Lane

Last updated : 14 January 2010 By Boro Mad


2007/8 FA Cup 5th Round

SHEFF UTD: Kenny, Geary, Morgan, Kilgallon, Naysmith, Stead (Carney 75), Tonge, Quinn, Martin (Armstrong 68), Beattie (Hulse 80), Sharp. Subs Not Used: Shelton, Lucketti.

BORO: Schwarzer, Young, Wheater, Pogatetz, Grounds, O'Neil, Rochemback, Arca (Boateng 68), Downing, Aliadiere, Mido (Alves 75). Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Johnson, Hines.

Att: 22,210

New Sheffield United manager Kevin Blackwell was denied a winning start on his return to Bramall Lane as the Blades narrowly missed out on a third Premier League scalp in this season's FA Cup.

After disposing of Bolton and Manchester City in previous rounds, Blackwell and United still have a second chance to reach the quarter-finals - and will at least be in the hat for Monday's draw.

But if they are to reach the sixth round they will have to win the replay at the Riverside on February 26.

If United fans had been expecting the Blackwell effect to have an immediate impact in terms of playing style then they were sorely mistaken.

In recent years United have always been a rugged, uncompromising, uncomplicated side, and against Boro that was again apparent.

But the Cup has had a galvanising effect on the team, in contrast to the poor Coca-Cola Championship form which ultimately resulted in Bryan Robson parting company with the club on Thursday.

For Blackwell, assistant for several years under former boss Neil Warnock before leaving in 2004 to manage Leeds, this was a homecoming to relish.

Working without any idea of salary and sleeping on the camp bed of club chairman Terry Robinson on Thursday night after accepting the challenge at short notice, the last few days have been a whirlwind.

The 49-year-old was at least positive in his team selection as he played with three strikers, with Jon Stead behind a front two of James Beattie and Billy Sharp.

United were the more positive of the two sides before the break, and were perhaps unfortunate not to have taken the lead in an opening 45 minutes they chiefly controlled.

As early as the fifth minute the fingers of Mark Schwarzer were warmed by a stinging left-foot half-volley from Matt Kilgallon which just eluded Sharp and Lee Martin on the rebound.

Moments later United should then have had a penalty when a Sharp drive struck the arm of Fabio Rochemback inside the area - but referee Chris Foy was unmoved, perhaps unsighted.

Greater accuracy from Stead would have brought United the opening goal in the 27th minute, but in rising highest to a Lee Martin corner amidst a crowd of Boro players, he planted a seven-yard header agonisingly wide.

Then, with the last kick of the first half, Beattie struck the post with a 22-yard free-kick, despite a mix-up with Michael Tonge.

Barclays Premier League Boro - with £12million record signing Afonso Alves on the bench - did not truly test Blades goalkeeper Paddy Kenny before the break.

At the start of the second period Boro keeper Schwarzer needed to clutch a Jon Stead drive from the edge of the penalty area at the second attempt.

After Kilgallon had headed a piercing far post free-kick from Martin into the sidenetting, the visitors finally came to life just before the hour.

They created four chances in as many minutes, whereas in the previous 60 they had rarely stirred.

In the space of 60 seconds Kenny pulled off two fingertip reaction saves, initially denying Mido with an overhead free-kick from the edge of the area.

From the ensuing corner, David Wheater conjured a bullet header which had Kenny reacting smartly to again push the ball over his own crossbar.

Stewart Downing was then inches away with a fierce 15-yard left-foot volley as he seized upon a chipped cross from Mido.

Soon after the Egyptian flicked on a long throw into the area moments later that was caught by a first-time shot from Rochemback he dragged narrowly wide.

Alves came on in the 75th-minute for Mido, while Blackwell brought on Rob Hulse for Beattie six minutes later.

The Blades were denied a second penalty shout when Boateng struck his own hand with an attempted clearance.

However, Emanuel Pogatetz, one of four Boro players booked, came close to winning the tie for the visitors in injury-time.

Pogatetz's close-range header from Downing's corner in the second minute of added time was blocked by Morgan - the only Blades player cautioned by Foy.