It wasn’t quite the perfect night for Sheffield United as they drew 2-2 with a dogged and determined Preston North End side at Bramall Lane last night.
Following on from Saturday’s 6-2 mauling of Peterborough, Blades fans were buzzing with excitement in hope of a repeat. And while the goals didn’t flow, Sander Berge’s finish did look to have given United all three points late on.
But an equaliser at the death from Emil Riis sealed a point for North End to spark dramatic scenes in the away end.
There were a few things on display which some may or not have noted during the game. However you saw it, here are FIVE things we thought stood out as Sheffield United drew 2-2 with Preston.
After a nightmare mistake early on against the Posh, Robinson endured a similarly frustrating and disappointing night against North End.
It was his side of the back four which saw Daniel Johnson steal in for the opener – albeit Robin Olsen had a nightmare – and he was also at fault for the late equaliser with a poorly timed header.
Robinson also lost his man as Emil Riis raced clear just before, and in all honesty, looks out of his depth at centre-back. If Ben Davies is fit, then he simply has to come in at Hull. Failing that, Chris Basham could be called upon.
Rhian Brewster’s bizarre forward run
If ever there was a piece of play from Brewster which highlighted his naivety at times, it was the bizarre run he made when John Fleck had a chance in the second half.
As the ball broke to Fleck, Brewster made a mad dash forward without any care for the defensive line. In fact, he sprinted a good 10-15 yards offside without even seeming to notice.
Alas, Fleck had to run all the way into the box and although he could have squared it to Brewster or Sharp – or scored himself – those who saw the odd movement from the young Blades forward will have been as baffled as us.
New role for Sander Berge?
Jokanovic chucked Berge on down the left hand side initially in what was a very strange tactical move. But when Brewster was introduced, Berge moved to the right and looked a real threat at times.
The Blades face a tricky conundrum trying to get the best from Berge. He’s clearly a central midfield player, but at times has looked a threat in the final third this season.
The Examiner reports today that Jokanovic is considering playing Berge further forward in the future. Certainly, it will be interesting to see how that pans out for the Norwegian.
Luke Freeman fails to shine
It was nice to see Luke Freeman on the field but he didn’t exactly seize his chance on the left of an attacking three.
Time and again he checked inside, and lacked the pace to really get beyond his man down the outside. At times, too, the link with Rhys Norrington-Davies lacked cohesion, and he often left the full-back exposed, too.
With Ben Osborn hopefully back for Saturday and Rhian Brewster doing ok enough in his small cameo on that side, it could mean Freeman has to wait a while yet to get another chance in this Blades XI.
Competition for squad places
We’ve written about this already during the week, but United’s squad depth for this level is frightening. It should, in theory, stand us in good stead to mount at least a top six challenge.
Last night United were without McGoldrick, Davies, Mousset, Burke, Osborn, and Enda Stevens. All have been first-team regulars in the last 12 months. Jack O’Connell is also out long-term, while Daniel Jebbison and Femi Seriki are out on loan.
Beyond that, the likes of Brunt and Lopata have been involved already this season, while even further down the line, Will Lankshear is firing in goals for fun for the 18s.
Jokanovic, then, has some big calls to make on a weekly basis. It’s a hefty squad, with a lot of talent. Keeping them all happy and playing well, will be the Serbian’s biggest challenge.