Sheffield United 2-0 Wolves
by Stu Hall
It had to happen sooner or later.
The brilliant start to the season could not continue forever and the unbeaten away record was always going to be lost.
But I don’t think there would have been many who expected these things to unfold as they did.
The truth is that there have been some players whose form has dipped in recent weeks, yet the strength of the team overall has carried us through.
Neves in particular has been well below the early standards he set for himself and with Jota no longer an unknown quantity, he is now double marked.
This should free up room for others such as Cavaliero but he too has been found wanting.
A result like this had been coming but against a Sheffield United side riding high on the adrenaline of a recent promotion it was always going to be a tough game.
The standout player so far, Mr. Consistent, Conor Coady has been the one whose form hasn’t dipped.
If anything, he has gone from strength to strength.
So what was going through his head at Bramall Lane to earn himself one of the most blatant red cards you will ever see, is a mystery.
A decent ball into the path of Clarke saw him bearing down on Ruddy’s goal.
Coady seemingly beaten decided to pull Clarke down on the edge of the box with no covering defender in sight.
It would have been better to let him get a shot away but instinct must have taken over as that rush of blood effectively ended the game as a contest after just 15 minutes.
It was then only a matter of time before the Blades got the first goal and when that man Clarke slid in to poke it past Ruddy from an excellent whipped low ball from Stevens.
The players heads dropped and so, in truth did the majority of the sellout away attendance.
Almost resigned to the inevitable.
It seemed like it would be a case of damage limitation more than anything else with Sheffield United being totally dominant, forcing ten corners in the opening period.
For all their pressure though there wasn’t a real clear cut chance that they created and the half time whistle came as more of a relief that anything else.
With Costa being sacrificed for Saiss in a bid to sure up the defence, even the half time period did not seem like it would be anything other than a breather.
However, it was Wolves who came out of the traps with a sign of intent.
The short passing and incisive running had returned and it looked like we might salvage something.
When Jota got awarded a very soft penalty it felt like we might get away with one.
But in a very Wolves way it was going to be one of those nights.
Neves stepped up to take the kick but did one of those stupid stuttered runs which hardly ever work.
And it did not, striking Blackmans let hand post and going wide.
From then onwards there was only one winner.
All enthusiasm and promise after the break vanished and when Clarke rose to nod home a Duffy free kick on the hour mark there was no hope left.
It could have been so different had Bonatini not shot straight at Blackman when he was clean through when it was 11 vs 11 but it was the only real chance of not of the game bar the penalty.
One to forget, onwards to Burton.