Sheffield United 0-0 Sheffield Wednesday Player Ratings: Norwood impresses

 

Dawson denies McGoldrick – bbc.co.uk

Despite Sheffield United’s territorial dominance in Friday night’s Steel City Derby, they were forced to settle for a 0-0 draw with Sheffield Wednesday. Here’s our Player Ratings from the game.

Sheffield United

Dean Henderson – the Manchester United loanee, who excelled at Shrewsbury last year, has enjoyed a positive start to life in the Championship but he was untested throughout this match, facing just a solitary shot on target. 6

Chris Basham – the utility man provides the aggression and leadership qualities required for a derby and his return to the starting line-up was a sizeable boost; Basham posed a threat with his overlapping runs, making one advanced crossed that set up a near-post chance for Billy Sharp in the first period. He also made one or two key defensive interventions early on, too. 8
John Egan – the former Brentford defender, who was unlucky to be denied a goal at Forest last week, is the only player in this United side that doesn’t spend the whole game looking to provide overloads. He is, however, very gifted in possession, with a (%) pass completion rate. 7
Jack O’Connell – it is unsurprising that O’Connell has developed under progressive tacticians like Keith Hill and Dean Smith, because his movement into the left channel aides the Blades massively going forward. Because of his detracting runs, Wednesday were afraid to close down Stevens or Duffy in the final third. He was unlucky not to win a penalty on the hour-mark, too. 9

Kieron Freeman – the classic wing-back attacks the byline straight away, but Freeman appears to want to drift into central areas and create space for Basham to overlap. Often that helped United create chances but sometimes, especially after a quick switch released the stalwart in space, one desired the direct runs of George Baldock, who remained an unused substitute. 6
Oliver Norwood – the Brighton loanee is enjoying arguably the best season of his career to date. Not only can he pick some excellent cross-field passes, his set pieces are also of high-quality too; we saw evidence of both traits throughout the 90 minutes. Norwood created numerous chance from dead ball situations and would have deserved a 94th minute goal, but alas his free-kick was saved by Dawson. 9
John Fleck – the former Coventry midfielder has looked excellent at Championship level. When Duffy or McGoldrick was occupied, he was the one driving forward and one early stinging efforts from deep forced a good save from Dawson. At this rate, it seems very surprising that Fleck has still not yet received a senior Scotland call-up. 8
Enda Stevens – the wing-back has been one of the Blades’ most consistent performers since joining from Portsmouth in 2017. Not only did he press with great ferocity here, he also linked up intelligently with O’Connell and picked out some accurate passes down the channels. 8

Mark Duffy – there were doubts about whether the attacking midfielder would be fit to start this match, but fans must be pleased that he was available. Duffy did his usual trick of picking up pockets of space between the defence and midfield, but he also had the intelligence to make bolder runs than we saw last season, dragging Pelupessy with him to create space for others. The fact he faded after the break, not uncommonly, however, suggests he finds it hard when asked to adapt in terms of fitness and stamina when games become stretched. 6
David McGoldrick – the 30-year-old showed his creativity while at Ipswich, so although he was on paper a striker, there was a flexibility about his game: he also had the awareness to drop deep when Duffy pushed on and space opened up. Not quite as influential after the break though and was replaced by Clarke. 6

Billy Sharp – the serial goalscorer has been in fine form this term, with 10 to his name following the recent hat-trick against Wigan. He was, perhaps, not quite so involved in the first half, although he flicked near-post headed from Basham’s cross just wide. 5

Leon Clarke (on 75) – the experienced front-man had scored six in his previous six games against the Owls but, at a time when play was becoming stretched, the 33-year-old’s lack of pace was not ideal. Conor Washington, who remained an unused sub, might have been more likely to exploit gaps in transitional phases, which is arguably what United needed to do to break that deadlock. 5

Sheffield Wednesday

Cameron Dawson – the stopper has made 64 saves so far this season, more than anyone else in the Championship. Not only that, he made his second penalty-save in the space of six days when he denied McGoldrick in the first half, which also saw him tip wide Fleck’s firm strike. Distribution needs improvement but considering that so many Wednesdayites were calling for Keiron Westwood to return, Dawson did enough to show that the number 25 can be their number one. 9

Jordan Thorniley – the utility man, who was on loan at Accrington last season, came into the back-three to offer composure and ability in possession but the intensity of the occasion made it hard for him to show those qualities. Still, he stuck to the task well and defended diligently in the second period. 8
Tom Lees – the long-serving centre-back has struggled so far this season, but looked back to his impressive 2014-15 form here. Partly because he wasn’t given big open spaces to defend and partly because he was allowed to make no-nonsense clearances, rather than play out from the back, Lees appeared far more comfortable. 8
Michael Hector – the Chelsea loanee looked more at home at centre-back here than he did in previous games as a holding midfielder. He made several important interventions when the Owls were under pressure, especially in the first half and seemed to have a certain presence about him. 8

Ashley Baker – the youngster came into the side to offer more energy at right-back than Palmer, who performed poorly against Norwich last week. For much of the contest, he was forced back by Stevens and O’Connell but found more opportunities to make brave runs late on, after Matias came on. 5
Joey Pelupessy – the holding midfielder was tasked with shackling Duffy but sometimes, in the first half at least, that meant gaps opened up in other areas. Put in some strong challenges fitting for the derby but his range of passing looked a tad limited. 4
Barry Bannan – the one-time Aston Villa trainee normally dictates play for the Owls but here, his role was about putting challenges in and making his presence felt. Sometimes he did that to good effect, but it’s hard to avoid the feeling that Jos Luhukay’s side didn’t quite use the Scot’s full range of qualities. 5
Matt Penney – the academy graduate offers bags of raw energy and, as a Wednesdayite himself, it was clear to see his desire to help his team out at the back by running as soon as play was switched. This defensive focus though meant that, when he did receive the ball, his first touch didn’t come quite as naturally as it has in previous games, so perhaps he’s enjoyed more impressive individual displays previously. 5
Morgan Fox – the former Charlton youngster has endured a torrid time with injuries in recent years, so it was a risk for Luhukay to start him at left wing-back. The Dutchman’s decision had mixed results: Fox conceded the penalty on 15 minutes for a trip on Duffy, he was lucky not to give away a second for a shirt-pull on O’Connell on the hour and at times struggled to cope with the diversity of the home side’s threat. He did, however, look more solid in the closing stages and was on occasions willing to push up the pitch to offer an outlet for diagonal balls. 6

Adam Reach – for the first 10 weeks of the campaign, Reach was in sensational form due to his ability to pull of speculative strikes from distance. He was rarely in even the position to do that here though and on the rare occasions when he did pick the ball up in the final third, he was either denied the space to pull the trigger or, as we saw on 54 minutes, his speculative effort flew well off target. With no goals in four now for the ex-Boro man, that magical purple patch could be over. 4
Steven Fletcher – the physical front-man was forced to work in isolation for much of the first period and while he often won the initial aerial ball that came his way, there was normally not enough players near him to make the most of his work. Starved of support and service. 5

Marco Matias (on 79) – the forward has shown flashes of quality at Wednesday but has been held back by inconsistency in terms of fitness; he certainly looked bright here and his willingness to press helped stretch play in a positive direction for the visitors. 7