Sheffield United Away Won 0 – 1
Without suspended Danso and with doubts about the fitness of bench warmers Valery and Bertrand, Ralph started at Sheffield United with Soares and Djenepo as wing backs in front of three big men. It didn’t work out as we soon found that defending isn’t amongst Djenepo’s talents, but the problem was spotted midway through a ding-dong opening period – early enough to prevent serious damage as we adjusted with Soares switching flanks and Ward-Prowse dropping into what was now more like a back five. The worst threat to Saints came when Vestergaard forgot to mark McGoldrick and had to be rescued by Gunn, and the ex-Saint also went close as he tried to get on the end of a deep cross. But the first of those incidents came as United broke after Adams struck the post and our ex-Blade was also denied by a fine Henderson save before setting up Boufal on the stroke of half time, but the move ended with a weak shot. Rather than being so end-to-end, the second half had the sides exchanging periods of dominance, and Saints had to rely on VAR spotting Egan offside when McBurnie ‘scored’ from a free kick. At the other end, though, Djenepo ensured Saints had some reward for their time in control when he held off Norwood’s challenge and then seemed to dance round the entire home defence before finishing neatly – another special goal that will have triggered the alarms at Anfield no doubt. At times things got hairy in our bid to hold onto the lead and maybe the Blades were justified in their complaints about a possible penalty for hands by Ward-Prowse; VAR seems to like to back the on-field call when it comes to spot kicks. In an incident packed single goal game, we had Bednarek to thank for a fine block that came against ten men following the dismissal of our old mate Billy Sharp for a desperately late but not vicious tackle on another sub, Armstrong.LSSC Man of the Match:: Sofiane Boufal. Haven’t been able to say that before, and had to look up how to spell his forename. He wouldn’t have come out on top had that first half miss been critical, but was a threat throughout.