Barnsley’s last away game of the 2010/11 nPower Championship season was one of the shortest journeys of the season as the Reds took on Sheffield United at Bramall Lane. A game against a local rival is always one to look forward to however the fact nothing less than a win would do for the Blades in their relegation fight added to the atmosphere of the occasion.
While Sheffield United may generally look at Barnsley as a team who just happen to be a few miles up the road, relations between the clubs fans have been strained in the last couple of years. First, former Barnsley defender Chris Morgan dealt, what was described as, a life-threatening blow with his elbow to Iain Hume. Then just last summer, Daniel Bogdanovic chose not to renew his contract with Barnsley and joined the Sheffield club on a free transfer – despite giving him his first chance in English football, Bogdanovic never showed any public gratitude to the club or the fans.
Sheffield United have been playing well in recent weeks and had managed wins in both of their last outings including an impressive 3-2 victory away to high-flying Reading. They needed to keep that run of victories going against Barnsley if they were to have any chance of taking the relegation fight to the final day.
The game began in a very open fashion, after all this was effectively a cup final for the Blades, with their tactic appearing to be only that needed to score more than Barnsley. Sheffield United created some good early chances however with 15 minutes of the game gone, Danny Haynes found himself with a free run on the Sheffield United goalkeeper and managed to slide the ball past him from the edge of the area.
The Blades knew they couldn’t just roll over in this one and managed to craft an equaliser just over five minutes before half time.
With Barnsley having little to play for but local pride and Sheffield United fighting for their lives, it is understandable that the mentalities of the two teams was somewhat different. A large travelling contingent from Barnsley was on hand to let the Reds eleven know how much a positive result in the game meant to them.
The Blades continued to have the lions share of the possession and opportunities through the second half, however the fact that they are in such a lowly league position doesn’t necessarily mean that this is dangerous to an opposing team! Barnsley were handling the Sheffield United attacks well, however Williamson’s 25-yard effort on the hour mark managed to find the net after an error from Luke Steele which was remarkably similar to Nick Colgan‘s error for the Reds in the 2006 League One Play-Off final.
It has to be said that a Barnsley equaliser never really looked forthcoming and the Blades knew that goal-difference as well as points were crucial in their bid for survival. Despite efforts from the Blades eventually totalling twenty, they were unable to improve on the one goal lead.
Almost out of the blue, with around six minutes of normal time remaining, Matt Hill put an inviting ball into the box which Danny Haynes managed to head home with very little pressure for the Blades defenders in a crowded penalty area.
The final result of 2-2 meant that Barnsley are unbeaten in games against Sheffield United, Doncaster Rovers and Leeds United this season. However, crucially for the hosts, it confirmed their relegation.
A late equaliser for Crystal Palace ensured that Sheffield United could not have stayed up whatever the result, however the fact is the Blades had to win to have any chance and Barnsley prevented them from having that chance.
Sheffield United v Barnsley Highlights
Click here for highlights Highlights are provided by the BBC and will remain available for around a week after the game has been played.
Sheffield United 2 (Lowton 39, Williamson 59) -
Sheff Utd: Simonsen, Montgomery (c), Henderson, Williamson, Mattock (Cresswell 90), Lowry, Quinn, Lowton, Slew (Evans 71), Helge Riise (McAllister 71), Maguire.
Subs: Doyle, Aksalu, Kozluk, Collins.
Barnsley: Steele, Hassell, Shackell (c), Doyle, Foster, Haynes, Trippier, Mellis (Noble Lazarus 53), Butterfield, Gray, Hill.
Subs: McEveley, O’Brien, Preece, Arismendi, Rose.
Venue: Bramall Lane, Sheffield