Millers gave ‘naive’ Blades a taste of their own medicine – Wilder

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD SUT­CLIFFE

SH­EFFIELD UNITED man­ager Chris Wilder has promised changes to­mor­row night af­ter ac­cus­ing his side of be­ing “naive” in the derby draw with Rother­ham United.

The Blades – who travel to Brent­ford to­mor­row – missed the chance to go top of the Cham­pi­onship af­ter twice be­ing pegged back by the Millers in a pul­sat­ing derby at the New York Sta­dium.

“Our per­for­mance just wasn’t good enough,” said Wilder. “We didn’t de­serve any­thing out of the game. We seemed to think we could just stroll in and it would be a pretty easy af­ter­noon.

“We were naive in our play and the play­ers didn’t recog­nise that Rother­ham would be on top of them. Maybe I need to get that mes­sage across more strongly. We didn’t have time and space to take touches.

“They were hun­grier than us and off they went. Rother­ham played more ef­fec­tive foot­ball. I imag­ine they had more ball than us, more crosses, more shots. They did to us what we usu­ally do to other teams.

“It is up to me now to look at that and then make the rel­e­vant changes for Tues­day (at Brent­ford). I usu­ally en­joy our per­for­mances in and out of pos­ses­sion but I didn’t en­joy that.”

Wilder’s fury was in stark con­trast to the sat­is­fac­tion Paul Warne took from his side’s bat­tling dis­play.

Jamie Proc­tor came off the bench to res­cue a point for the hosts in stop­page time and the Millers chief said: “We took the game to them and de­served our equaliser.

“At 2-1 down, I was dis­ap­pointed but I was still proud of the per­for­mance. The lads could not have given me any more. They went toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the league. To get the equaliser so late on made it feel like a win.”

Proc­tor’s late lev­eller saw the Blades drop to fifth in the ta­ble but York­shire’s other pro­mo­tion hope­fuls had a bet­ter af­ter­noon with Leeds United beat­ing Bris­tol City 2-0 and Mid­dles­brough tri­umph­ing 2-1 at Grif­fin Park.

Ke­mar Roofe and Pablo Her­nan­dez scored in the fi­nal quar­ter for Leeds to break the re­sis­tance of a Robins side re­duced to ten men by Josh Brown­hill’s 55th minute dis­missal.

Marcelo Bielsa said: “When I see the game again I’ll take into ac­count this point of view – that we didn’t de­serve to win the game. At the be­gin­ning of the sec­ond half and from min­utes 25 to 35, we didn’t dom­i­nate.

“For the rest of the time we dom­i­nated. The fact that we played with one player more made it easy for us but I don’t think it was the only ar­gu­ment.”

DEAN HEN­DER­SON, as Rother­ham United know only too well, lacks nei­ther con­fi­dence nor abil­ity.

In a trio of League One meet­ings with the Millers last sea­son, the Manch­ester United loa­nee saved two penal­ties and pro­duced one of the finest goal­keep­ing dis­plays the New York Sta­dium has seen when help­ing Shrews­bury Town to vic­tory al­most ex­actly a year ago.

Rother­ham did even­tu­ally have the last laugh on Hen­der­son via a pro­mo­tion-clinch­ing dou­ble from Richard Wood at Wem­b­ley that came a cou­ple of months af­ter a Twit­ter post by the Eng­land Un­der-21s in­ter­na­tional declar­ing him­self to be ‘The Great­est’ had been pinned to the dress­ing room wall by a cou­ple of Paul Warne’s squad.

But, go­ing into Satur­day’s derby clash, no-one in the Rother­ham camp was in any doubt as to how formidable a bar­rier Hen­der­son was likely to be on his re­turn to the south York­shire town with Sh­effield United.

So it proved, the 21-year-old’s dis­play between the posts be­ing a rare bea­con of light on what was oth­er­wise an af­ter­noon that left Blades man­ager Chris Wilder in a dark mood af­ter his side were twice pegged back in a pul­sat­ing clash.

The sec­ond of those lev­ellers came deep into stop­page time via a pin­point shot from sub­sti­tute Jamie Proc­tor that was des­tined for the net from the mo­ment the ball left his right boot.

It meant an ul­ti­mately frus­trat­ing re­turn to the New York for Hen­der­son, who de­spite the vis­i­tors be­ing dis­tinctly sec­ond-best af­ter half-time had clearly lost none of his be­lief that the Blades can win pro­mo­tion.

“We maybe thought it was go­ing to be too easy com­ing here,” said the loa­nee to The York­shire Post. “That is the dis­ap­point­ing thing be­cause if we turn up then we win the game.

“It was all about our chang­ing room be­cause we are the bet­ter team – by a coun­try mile. But we have to turn up.

“You can’t give teams like this an op­por­tu­nity, es­pe­cially when they are at home. All the lads tried their hard­est but they turned it into a bas­ket­ball match. They make it tough.

“This di­vi­sion is com­pet­i­tive and it is games like this (that make the dif­fer­ence). We ter­rorised Wed­nes­day in the derby. Noone can get near us when we play like that. Fact. An­other day, that could have been 6-0.

“But we didn’t turn up against Rother­ham. That is dis­ap­point­ing be­cause, as a group of play­ers, we have a great op­por­tu­nity this sea­son. I wouldn’t swap any player for any­one in our team – this is me be­ing truth­fully hon­est.”

Hen­der­son’s af­ter­noon turned out to be one of his busier since join­ing the Blades on loan for the sea­son.

Just 35 sec­onds had elapsed when he saved smartly from a Richie Tow­ell vol­ley. Later in the first half, Hen­der­son had to again be alert to, first, tip over Semi Ajayi’s ef­fort and then turn Jon Tay­lor’s shot round the post.

By then, the vis­i­tors led thanks to a sub­lime feint and then fin­ish from Mark Duffy on the edge of the Rother­ham penalty area af­ter Ajayi had gifted pos­ses­sion to Wilder’s men.

The Blades would have had a sec­ond shortly be­fore the break but Will Vaulks blocked David Mc­Goldrick’s ef­fort on the line af- ter the hosts had been un­able to clear the dan­ger from a cor­ner.

It was a squan­dered op­por­tu­nity that Wilder’s men came to rue with the Millers draw­ing level mid­way through the sec­ond half.

Tay­lor, a big threat through­out the af­ter­noon, was cred­ited with the equaliser but it needed a huge de­flec­tion off Chris Basham to beat a wrong-footed Hen­der­son.

The home fans, over­joyed at be­ing level, could not re­sist tauning the Blades goal­keeper with the chant, ‘He’s gonna cry in a minute’ but it looked like he would have the last word.

First, he pro­duced a stun­ning fin­ger-tip save to keep out Ajayi and then, with just five min­utes re­main­ing, Basham nod­ded the vis­i­tors back in front fol­low­ing good work by John Fleck and Billy Sharp.

Warne’s re­sponse was to throw on Proc­tor and Kyle Vas­sell in the hope ei­ther could en­sure jus­tice was done. Proc­tor did just that, al­beit af­ter a cat­a­logue of er­rors that in­cluded Marvin John­son need­lessly los­ing the ball, Enda Stevens miss­ing a vi­tal tackle and then Oliver Nor­wood di­vert­ing the ball into the path of the sub­sti­tute who fin­ished from 15 yards to keep Rother­ham a cou­ple of points clear of the drop zone.

“The game de­served a fin­ish like that,” said Proc­tor. “And we def­i­nitely de­served the min­i­mum of a point. Maybe all three on an­other day.

“I un­der­stand why some write us off. Those out­side our club sim­ply look at the bud­gets and at­ten­dances, and au­to­mat­i­cally see us as a weaker side that should get rel­e­gated.

“But that is not true at all. We never roll over for any­one. Op­po­si­tion man­agers have been com­pli­men­tary, say­ing it has been their tough­est game of the sea­son. I would prob­a­bly think the Sh­effield United staff will say the same. I doubt they ex­pect us to go down af­ter that per­for­mance.”

PIC­TURES: SI­MON BELLIS/SPORTIMAGE

RIGHT TIME, RIGHT PLACE: Rother­ham United’s Will Vaulks clears off the line from Sh­effield United’s David Mc­Goldrick dur­ing Satur­day’s South York­shire derby at the New York Sta­dium. In­set, Mark Duffy cel­e­brates his goal for the vis­i­tors.

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