On Saturday 17th August, I went to Bramall Lane to watch Sheffield United play Colchester United in League 1.
Following the England U21 international match here on Tuesday, I returned to the home of Sheffield United for the second time in a week to watch the Blades take on the U’s in this third tier contest. Despite being a Chesterfield supporter, I actually live closer to Bramall Lane and so the journey to the ground is always a simple one for me. I arrived in plenty of time, made my way through the turnstile and took my seat on the Kop alongside my United supporting girlfriend Hannah.
It had been a mixed start for the Blades who, after beating Notts County 1-0 in the opening game of the new season, had fallen to a disappointing 3-1 defeat at the hands of Brentford last Saturday. Meanwhile, Colchester had a 100% league record defeating both Gillingham and Port Vale 1-0. However, a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Peterborough in the League Cup had shown that they were certainly beatable opponents.
Former Everton, Rangers and Scotland player David Weir had took charge of Sheffield United over the summer and he made three changes from the side that had been defeated at Griffin Park in the previous game. Sean McGinty, Tony McMahon and Callum McFadzean replaced Darryl Westlake, Marcus Williams and Stephen McGinn. For the U’s, boss Joe Dunne was understandably confident in his team as he named the same eleven from the 1-0 victory against newly promoted Port Vale.
The two teams made their way onto the field as the “Greasy Chip Butty” song echoed around the stadium, sung loudly by the passionate and mostly out-of-tune home supporters! The game then got underway in front of just over 17,000 supporters and it was the home side the started the strongest.
Tony McMahon has U’s goalkeeper Sam Walker worried when his curling effort went just wide of the target, before Walker was forced into his first stop of the match soon after from a tame Sean McGinty strike. However, despite having most the play up in the opening stages of the match it was the Blades who went behind on the 25th minute.
A United corner was comfortably cleared and Sanchez Watt charged forward on the counter attack, picking out Freddy Sears who slotted the ball home to bag his first goal of the new season and put the visitors 1-0 ahead.
Watt was causing problems for the Blades back line and his long range effort forced George Long to make a save to keep the score 1-0. But a huge error from Walker in the opposite goal gifted the Blades an equaliser on the stroke of half time. Harry Maguire picked up the ball from a quick free kick and sent a hopeful shot goalwards, but the man between the sticks somehow misjudged the strike and it deflected off his gloves and into the net.
The Blades started the second half strongly, just had they had the first, Lyle Taylor and Conor Coady forcing a couple of early saves from the keeper. But the U’s thought they had regained the advantage around the hour mark when Jabo Ibehre poked the ball home from a free kick, but the celebrations were quickly cut short by the linesman’s flag.
The Blades began to pile on the pressure as they searched for a goal that would earn them all 3 points. Febian Brandy cut through the Colchester defence with a pass that put Taylor through on goal, but the on-rushing goalkeeper managed to block the shot. And Taylor thought he had won it in the final minute when he put the ball in the net from close range but it was again ruled out for offside and the game ended level.
Sheffield United 1–1 Colchester United
Sears ’25, Maguire ’45
Long, Maguire, Collins, McGinty, McMahon, Doyle, Coady, Brandy, Murphy, Taylor, McFadzean (Johns ’75)
Walker, Dickson, Okuonghae, Eastman, Wilson, Wright, Eastmond, Watt (Wright ’61), Sears (Bond ’66), Massey, Ibehre (Morrison ’80)