WILDER WON’T STICK THE BOOT IN Four-point lead enough to keep the Blades boss smiling
CHRIS Wilder was content to take a point after what he branded a ‘boot-fest’, refusing to accept a draw at lowly Oldham represented two points dropped for Sheffield United.
On-loan Chesterfield midfielder Jay O’Shea smashed in early in the second half to level an opening goal from Oldham’s Tope Obadeyi.
And the League One front-runners had to make do with a draw ahead of back-to-back fixtures at Bramall Lane.
“We would have snapped your hand off to be going into the last seven games of the season with a four-point lead,” Wilder said.
“We didn’t deserve to win, but our next two games are at home where we’ve been outstanding all season.
“There’s no need for anyone to feel down about this result and I certainly don’t see it as two points dropped.
“It’s all about an accumulation of points over the season and getting a draw from this game is good for us psychologically.
“There wasn’t a lot of football played. Oldham booted it better than us in the first half and we possibly booted it better than them in the second. It was a boot-fest.
“The pitch is difficult here and Oldham are picking up good results, especially at home, so I never subscribed to the idea that we would just roll them over.
“We played a dangerous and committed team, but we kept driving the game forward to the end.”
Kieron Freeman flicked the sidenetting for the visitors in the eighth minute, but Oldham started strongly on what was a hard, barren playing surface at Boundary Park.
John Sheridan’s side may yet be relegated, but they are rarely in the mood to be rolled over, entering this game on a run of one defeat in nine.
The hosts may have gone in front on 31 minutes. Lee Erwin swung in a cross with his right foot and wingback Josh Law got just too much on his far-post header which cleared the crossbar by a foot.
Oldham took a deserved lead on 44 minutes. Ousmane Fane robbed Ethan Ebanks-Landell of possession, rode the Blades centre-back’s challenge and fed Paul Green, who slipped in the overlapping Law. His cross was a beauty and Obadeyi was in the right place to apply a calm volleyed finish from close-range.
Wilder’s side responded well at the start of the second period and though Erwin went close with a glancing header from a dangerous Chris Taylor delivery, they levelled five minutes in.
James Hanson forced a mistake from half-time substitute George Edmundson and as the ball sat up just outside the box, O’Shea planted a superb first-time effort that left Oldham goalkeeper Connor Ripley grasping at thin air to his left.
Billy Sharp had a quiet afternoon and fluffed his one clear chance in the 86th minute, getting well underneath the ball inside the area after positive work by Paul Coutts, before later seeing an effort blocked at point-blank range by Ripley.
In the end, though, a draw was, if anything, a disappointing outcome for Sheridan, given the sterling efforts of his relegation-threatened outfit.
“It was a terrific performance from us, especially considering who we were playing,” said Sheridan. “They are already promoted in my eyes and have been turning teams over. But we were the better side.
“It was a good, workmanlike performance and there were a few players in there who haven’t been playing much.
“We nullified them and kept the top scorer in the league (Billy Sharp) quiet. They were terrific and I can only applaud my players.
“It was a great goal from us, after a good passage. It was a shame we conceded, but you know they are always going to create chances.”
JAY’S DAY: Jay O’Shea celebrates scoring the Blades’ equaliser Inset: Billy Sharp gets ahead of Oldham’s Peter Clarke
RIVALS: Chris Wilder, left, and John Sheridan