Championship Game of the Week – Sheffield United v Crystal Palace
This week’s game of the week was the Saturday evening kick off at Bramall Lane, which was screened live on BSKYB. Those fortunate enough to catch the game either from the stands or via their television were treated to a five goal thriller featuring two sending offs, three penalties and a bucket load of late drama.
The punch line of this drama was that Sheffield United scored two goals in a controversial final five minutes to come from behind, snatching the points and leaving Crystal Palace in the relegation mire.
Yet despite the end result it was the away side that took the lead, as Jean Calve was penalised for pushing Neil Danns inside the penalty area. The alleged victim was able to step up and convert the resulting penalty himself.
Sheffield United not to be outdone were able to equalise five minutes before half time with a penalty of their own, as Nathaniel Clyne was judged to have fouled Ched Evans, Richard Cresswell converted for the Blades.
This is despite replays suggesting that the defender won the ball and unable to accept the decision Owen Garvan talked his way into an early bath by earning a second yellow card for dissent.
With the sides level at half time, Crystal Palace were able to regroup and live up to the adage that it is sometimes harder to play against ten men than eleven, Sheffield United pressured but were unable to breakthrough. Despite this pressure Crystal Palace were able to take the lead against the run of play, as James Vaughan converted a Nathaniel Clyne cross just after the hour mark.
The advantage remained with the visitors going into the last ten minutes and optimistic Eagles fans must have sensed they were on the brink of a potentially season defining victory, however fate and the Blades had other ideas.
After piling on the pressure following the visitors goal, the Blades finally broke the Eagles’ resistance with just five minutes to play. Unsurprisingly this was the result of another controversial decision which allowed a blatantly offside Ched Evans to hook home the rebound from a Kyle Bartley header which hit the bar.
Just two minutes later Sheffield United were able to break through again and break Crystal Palace hearts by winning another, but this time more clear cut penalty. As Claude Davis fouled Daniel Bogdanovic inside the area with his back to goal, the Blades striker however was able to recover and fire home from 12 yards.
The Maltese striker however went from hero to villain within a few minutes of his goal as he concluded an action packed game by earning a straight red card for serious foul play.
There was little incident after Bogdanovic left the field and Sheffield United secured a hard fought victory in a game that seemed to be alluding them until the final moments.
Both sides needed to win this game and although now clear of the relegation zone there will be much for Sheffield United to do if they want to get their season back on track, as for Crystal Palace a change in fortune is a must should they wish to play Championship football next season.