Daw­son’s derby shutout de­nies United top spot

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Premier League - By Richard Jolly at Bra­mall Lane

If Cameron Daw­son’s tran­si­tion from scape­goat to saviour was not star­tling enough, the Sh­effield Wed­nes­day goal­keeper’s first taste of a Steel City derby had a sur­real post­script. As he halted Wed­nes­day’s los­ing run and de­nied United a re­turn to the Cham­pi­onship sum­mit, the fans who had made the omit­ted Keiren West­wood a cause

cele­bre and called for the 23-yearold to be dropped ended up cho­rus­ing: “Cameron Daw­son, he’s one of our own.”

And then the United man­ager Chris Wilder re­vealed Daw­son may be one of his own, too. “I think he is a re­la­tion of mine, go­ing back along the way,” he said. “I am not go­ing to look up the fam­ily tree tonight as I might be dis­ap­pointed.”

Daw­son ex­celled, from sav­ing John Fleck’s early shot to Oliver Nor­wood’s 94th-minute free-kick. “He was their man of the match by an ab­so­lute mile,” lamented Wilder.

“We all for­get that we play with a very young goal­keeper,” said Wed­nes­day man­ager Jos Luhukay. “He did a very good job. I don’t re­ally un­der­stand why he gets so much crit­i­cism. In the last four games, he was not the player who made in­di­vid­ual mis­takes.”

But Wed­nes­day had lost all four. If Daw­son was blamed for con­ced­ing the most goals in the Cham­pi­onship this sea­son, he has also made the most saves. While Luhukay turned back time 10 months to his de­but in charge of Wed­nes­day – an­other 0-0 draw at Bra­mall Lane – Daw­son re­wound the clock six days, but with a dif­fer­ent out­come.

He saved Mario Vran­cic’s penalty for Nor­wich last Satur­day, but Wed­nes­day still lost 4-0. Last night, he kept out David Mcgoldrick’s spot-kick and, for the first time since they vis­ited Wolves in April, Wed­nes­day pre­vented op­po­nents from scor­ing in a league game. “The team find the trust in de­fend­ing,” Luhukay said. It meant the post-match taunts were live­lier than a sub­dued sec­ond half with Wed­nes­day fans won­der­ing how poor United were as “we kept a clean sheet” and their hosts re­tort­ing “what the hell was that?”

As three of United’s finer for­mer de­fend­ers, the watch­ing trio of Harry Maguire, Kyle Walker and Phil Jagielka, could con­firm, it was an ex­cel­lent rear­guard ac­tion. “They de­fended with their lives,” added Wilder. “It wasn’t any­thing tac­ti­cal. They just sat in.” But, as he noted: “If we score the first goal, they might show a bit of am­bi­tion.”

United had the op­por­tu­nity when Mor­gan Fox tripped Mark Duffy but Daw­son dived to his left to keep out Mcgoldrick’s penalty. “I have laid it loads on him that he has cost us the derby,” joked Wilder about his sum­mer sign­ing.

His top scorer, cap­tain Billy Sharp, had an in­jury-time chance to turn match-win­ner but the life­long Blade, who has never scored in the Sh­effield derby, headed Nor­wood’s cor­ner wide.

“I am de­lighted in the way we played,” said Wilder. “We have dom­i­nated big hit­ters, lads on £40,000 a week. They had big­name play­ers on big wages but they re­sorted to kick­ing it any­where.”

Wed­nes­day strug­gled to keep the ball as they had just 32 per cent of pos­ses­sion and, while Fox spurned an early chance by vol­ley­ing over, only sub­sti­tute Marco Ma­tias drew a save from Dean Hen­der­son and even that was a tame 90th-minute shot.

But the point eased the pres­sure on Luhukay af­ter Wed­nes­day tum­bled from the play-off po­si­tions to 17th in­side a month. “I am very re­laxed,” he said. “I never thought about my po­si­tion.” But Daw­son, by hav­ing the game of his life in the big­gest match of his ca­reer, may have shored it up.

Sh­effield United (3-4-1-2) Hen­der­son; Basham, Egan, O’con­nell; Free­man, Nor­wood, Fleck, Stevens; Duffy; Mcgoldrick (Clarke 75), Sharp. Subs Moore (g), Bal­dock, Coutts, Stear­man, John­son, Wash­ing­ton.

Sh­effield Wed­nes­day (5-4-1) Daw­son; Baker, Lees, Hec­tor, Thorni­ley, Fox; Reach, Ban­nan, Pelu­pessy, Pen­ney (Ma­tias 79); Fletcher. Subs Wild­smith (g), Palmer, Onomah, Nuhiu, Joao, Pudil. Booked Ban­nan, Baker, Hec­tor.

Ref­eree An­drew Madley (West York­shire).

Let-off: Barry Ban­nan hails Wed­nes­day keeper Cameron Daw­son’s penalty save

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