HILL UNHAPPY AT DALE DEFENDING
KEITH Hill was forced to admit Rochdale were the architects of their own downfall as they left Bramall Lane empty handed.
A first-half double from Che Adams twice gave the home side the lead.
The Dale’s Peter Vincenti grabbed his seventh of the season with a firsthalf penalty and Lewis Alessandra levelled the scores with 18 minutes left, but Neill Collins’ towering header moments later sealed the win.
Blades boss Nigel Adkins showed his faith in Adams after he scored against Notts County in midweek and the 19-year-old repaid him with a superb performance.
Just before the half-hour mark, almost out of nothing, it was the youngster who gave Sheffield United the lead. Jose Baxter had the vision and ability to play a perfectly weighted pass inside the Rochdale defence and Adams was able to open up his body and place his shot under Josh Lillis.
The lead only lasted eight minutes after Nathaniel Mendez-Laing was brought down in the box by Matt Done. Rochdale’s top marksman Vincenti stepped up to score.
Four minutes later, Joe Rafferty misjudged the flight of Billy Sharp’s wonderful cross-field ball. Adams brought it down with his first touch, cut inside the defender and finished superbly to give the home side a halftime lead.
“Che Adams, what a massive threat he looks,” beamed Adkins after the match.
“It was a super run from Billy Sharp down the right-hand side, and what a diagonal ball he’s put in there.
“But the way Che’s taken the ball, received it, gone through and scores – he could have had a hat-trick.”
After the break both sides had chances to find the net, but it was Alessandra that forced his way through. Slipped in by Mendez-Laing, the striker’s shot looked to be going over Matt Howard’s head, but the goalkeeper – on his 100th appearance – got a hand to the ball but couldn’t stop it finding the far corner.
“We played well in patches,” said Rochdale boss Hill.
“We didn’t defend well from the front.You look at the goals and arguably blame the defenders, but as a collective unit, our front five defend first.
“I have sympathy sometimes for defenders, but a goal starts somewhere and I don’t think our offensive players helped for the first two goals.
“We were down on numbers, but I am more than happy with the set up of the team and the plan that we had, but again it comes down to personal responsibility.
“We are still working on things in training, but there is a little bit of anxiety, there’s too many mistakes out on the pitch.
“We have to reset, we have to re-find ourselves as players, because it’s tragic to come here and score two goals and not get anything from the game.”
Parity was short lived when Collins rose highest to head in Baxter’s corner. The little midfielder was involved in everything United did well and the centre-back was best positioned to power in the winner.
“There’s a long, long way to go,” continued Adkins.
“As I think everyone knows and appreciates. It’s about staying in the race. Stay in the race, get to Christmas and then put yourself in a position to win it.
“We need to score goals, and for me we have the capability to go and do it.
“We got five in midweek and three again on Saturday, so we are a threat and we have people who can score goals.”
BLADE OF GLORY: Sheffield United’s Kieran Wallace battles with Rochdale’s Reuben NobleLazarus, while the Blades’ Neill Collins celebrates scoring their third, inset