That was a good 0-0 draw to watch!!

After Saturdays entertaining draw against a very good Bradford side it was another tough game, this time against the Divisions top team and it was not surprising in my opinion that DC went with Partington in preference to Daniel Leadbitter at full back. It was however a surprise that after building up Luke James so much last week that he was completely out of the squad. As is usual DC keeps his cards very close to his chest and we rarely know whether players are injured, rested or dropped but the bonus last night was the return of Billy Bodin. The truth is that both Bradford and Sheffield united have shown us the standards required to be a force in this division and both games could have gone either way and were similar in many respects but probably last nights draw was more deserved than Saturdays and we could have snatched the win with a little more luck and better finishing. Unlike Saturday the two substitutes improved the side and from being the controlling side Sheffield were very much hanging on come the end.

Lumley – 8.5 – His good form continues and he looks a fine prospect. Spilled a couple of shots but was quickly down on them and shows great positioning which is always the sign of a good keeper. Commanded his area excellently and made an out of this world save to keep out a close range shot heading for the top corner after the referee failed to spot a clear handball by the United striker.

Partington – 7 – Solid performance although one slip in the first half nearly and probably should have cost us a goal but somehow the Sheffield striker managed to put the cross wide of the post. He looks a good defender and is more solid than Leadbitter but hasn’t got Leadbitters pace to recover if a mistake is made. For me he is the better defender and should be given a run of games to build an understanding rather than keep switching from one game to the next.

Lockyer – 7.5 – Tom is getting back to his best which is great news for him but probably disappointing for Burns who still waits to make his debut. 1 goal conceded in our last three games is a great improvement on the games before that and the partnership that Tom is building with Sweeney is very impressive.

Sweeney – 9 MOM – An absolute rock at the back and a powerhouse in the air which is something we have lacked for a long time. He is no slouch on the ground either and against tough opponents he again shone and he, along with Lumley is the main reason behind us not conceding goals whenever we are attacked.This guy is a brick wall, what we’ve been missing in the backline.

Brown – 7 – Left exposed at times in the first half but stood up well to the challenge with a solid performance which was let down by his passing. He looked a lot better once Monty was brought on and hit over a couple of great crosses late on after enterprising runs.

Lines – 7.5 – His strong running with the ball is now happening more often and to be honest in possession of the ball I think he is one of the best midfielders in this division and there is no problem at all with his workrate. His weakness has and probably always will be his defensive ability but there again if he was strong in that aspect then he would not be playing for us and would be a Championship regular for somebody.He has that ability to hold on to the ball in tight spaces and drive forward with the ball at his feet. on one occasion last night only the final ball let him down after an absolutely brilliant run.

O. Clarke – 6.5 – Deserved a goal with a superb shot in the first half that swerved away at the last minute to just miss the top corner and overall it was an OK game for Ollie. The good thing about Ollie is that his what were poor games are now OK games and the more games he plays with Chris Lines in the middle the stronger he could become. He is a player who has changed my mind and his main improvement is confidence on the ball and becoming more involved in the game. Well done Ollie.

Sinclair – 6 – Charged about as if his life depended on it but in doing so he left Brown with little protection but did pressurise opponents in the middle of the pitch although it seems that the better teams in this division are more than capable of passing around him and therefore making him look a bit headless running around from one player to another but DC seems to like him and so do a lot of supporters. He does have a superb attitude to the game but for me is a squad player rather than a regular.

Bodin – 7 – Good to see him back but Sheffield United had done their homework and kept tight reigns on him. Still managed a couple of long range shots and some clever footwork but should probably have done better when blasting over after a hectic goalmouth scramble in the final flourish. Is DC going to give him a go up front as happened after Moore and Montano came on last night. I am not convinced he has the physical presence for the role and also he is that much more dangerous on the edge of the box rather than inside.

Harrison – 6 – Nothing wrong with his workrate but that alone is not going to make up for a lack of activity inside the box. There were times where workrate were the problem but now it seems to be that he doesn’t get into goalscoring positions and the question mark is there over his decision making when he does gopod work but is let down by the final ball whether that be a shot or a pass.

Gaffney – 6 – Worked hard but there comes a time where you need your centre forward to score some goals. It looked like he had broken his duck but unfortunately it was just offside but there was no excuse whatsoever for the miss when clean through with just the keeper to beat in the second half and he should also have done better in the first half when he broke into the box from the left and hit the bar.(although it looked to me like the keeper touched it over). The strange thing is – well perhaps it isn’t strange- but i didn’t expect him to score and was wishing that it was Bodin going through. I am not convinced that any of our current strikers are actually good enough for a team to go for promotion in the future as at the moment Harrison, James and Gaffney are all struggling to actually get shots on target.

Subs:

Montano – 7.5 – Changed the game when he came on by providing the spark that had been missing. Wish he was given the same chances that Sinclair gets because he has quality on the ball and a powerful shot. Add to this his workrate and a surprising ability in the air and I think he could even be considered for one of the striking positions. Was denied last night by a fantastic save by their keeper as he was denied on Saturday by a great block by the defender. He had more shots and crosses in the time he was on the pitch than Harrison had managed all game and the same was the case on Saturday before he was substituted. It was his cross after his first shot was blocked that set up Gaffneys goal that was disallowed probably rightly for offside.

Moore – 6 – Did Ok. Couple of good runs and healthy work rate but really needs a goal or two to build up his fragile confidence. I keep thinking I see something there as a player but then it doesn’t seem to materialise.

Crowd -8 – Noisy and looked more than the just over 9100 declared. Where have the missing 1500 gone other than it was a drab Tuesday night and we haven’t won for a few games.

Ref – 6- Missed a lot and lenient but I would prefer the leniency to those referees who end up with a long list of bookings even if there would have been more bookings to the opposition than us. He could have cost us the game late on where he missed a handball right under his nose and only the fantastic save by Lumley kept our goal intact.

Sheffield U – 8 – A good side who come the end were probably satisfied with the point. They had good players all over the park and are rightfully at the top. Quite a physical side but that seems to be what is required in this division as they are allowed to get away with it by below par refereeing standards and linesmen who are generally no better and sometimes worse.

DC Probably got it spot on with both the starting formation and definitely the substitutions. Not always keen on the keeping it tight for 60 minutes then 30 minutes trying to win it but against 3 good teams we have come away with 3 draws whereas in all honesty before Christmas they are all games we could well have lost. Must be praised for the way he has reconstructed the defence and the age of the back four and the goalkeeper bodes well for the future if we can keep hold of Lumley and Sweeney. IMO Sweeney would be worth spending some cash on and could be as great a signing as Tillson was all those years ago. If he can be as successful at improving the midfield and forwards in the summer then we have more good times ahead of us. I think the last two games have really shown that we are quite a way behind the better teams in terms of quality on the ball and of course the problem is that quality costs money. On a budget well below most of the top teams DC has worked wonders.

So with three points from the first three tough games we go into a game on Saturday where I think we should be going all out to take the three points. If we can do that then a six point haul from the four games will be a good return. At the very least we need another point but would be nice to see DC stick pretty well with the same team as last night. As it is an away game I would not go to the two wingers even though Monty deserves to start but whether I would stick with Ellis and Gaffney I am not sure but there again is James any better? When I see Montano take up positions in the box and seems to have a good shot I wonder if he warrants a try up there and surprisingly Byron Moore has played up top as well so there are other options to what is our problem at the moment- not scoring enough goals!! It is amazing that our problem in the first half of the season was letting in too many goals but now it looks like our main problems are at the other end of the pitch. UTG

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