By Daryl Hornby (Sheffield United supporter)
Hartlepool United 1-2 Sheffield United – 02/10/2012
Sheffield United travelled to Victoria Park on this wet and windy Tuesday night looking to maintain their unbeaten start to the season against a Hartlepool side who had won just one of their opening nine games in League One. Manager Danny Wilson named an unchanged side from the game against Notts County three days earlier, meaning youngster John Cofie would again be watching the game unfold from the bench. He saw the visitors dominate the early exchanges as they looked to take an early lead, missing a couple of early chances before taking the lead in the 27th minute, courtesy of Dave Kitson’s header from an excellent Tony McMahon cross.
The home side looked to hit back immediately but couldn’t get the breakthrough they required before the half time whistle. However, they came out just as strong in the second half as they dominated the opening stages and would have equalised if two great chances had been taken by winger James Poole. The Blades reacted by introducing John Cofie in the 61st minute for the ineffective Nick Blackman, but he couldn’t influence the game as much as he would have liked with Hartlepool continuing to dominate the second half. Their dominance was rewarded in the 78th minute, when veteran striker Steve Howard met a deep cross to head home leaving his namesake Mark Howard with no chance.
This goal forced the visitors back into gear, and they forced a good chance as Ryan Flynn’s cross was met by Cofie, but he couldn’t get hold of his shot and the danger was cleared. There would be a couple more half chances for United but they couldn’t take advantage until the 89th minute, where Leicester loanee Paul Gallacher coolly slotted home from 12 yards out after collecting Ryan Flynn’s cross. It was then a case of holding onto the lead for the duration of injury time, and the Blades did that well including John Cofie, who held the ball in the corner showing good strength and control to run the clock down and see the Blades take home 3 points.
Sheffield United 1-1 Oldham Athletic – 13/10/2012
John Cofie was back in the starting line up for this game as Paul Gallagher’s loan spell ended, and he started on the left wing of a 4-4-2 formation. Sadly for him, this did not work out well in the opening stages of the game and he was moved over to the right wing around 10 minutes in. Clearly out of his comfort zone, the youngster failed to get involved in the game and frustrated a lot of the time as he seemingly pulled out of 50/50 challenges throughout. I don’t believe he was happy to be playing on the wing. He had one moment in the second half where he chested the ball and juggled it mid-air before heading to Michael Doyle, who’s shot was tipped wide by the Oldham keeper.
This was a disjointed performance from Sheffield United, and it was a game where Oldham dominated the first half. The only real talking point though, was a disallowed goal for the visitors as the assistant referee raised his flag when Jonathan Grounds pounced on a rebound from George Long’s save.
The second half brought a much brighter start from the Blades, and they took the lead through a Nick Blackman penalty in the 52nd minute after Dave Kitson was pulled down just inside the area. After failing to make any impact, Cofie was replaced in the 70th minute by veteran Richard Cresswell who also offered very little once he was introduced. United had one really good chance to double the lead on the counter attack when Ryan Flynn worked his way to a one-on-one with keeper Bouzanis, but he dragged his shot wide when he should have done better.
Oldham really piled on the pressure for the last 20 minutes, as the home side tried to sit on their 1-0 lead and get as many men behind the ball as they could. This really frustrated the home fans and Oldham took advantage with virtually the last kick of the game. A high, hopeful ball was sent into the box by Jose Baxter, which was met by Matt Smith who slotted home in the 97th minute of the game to earn his side a point.
Sheffield United 1-0 Walsall – 23/10/2012
Manchester United loanee John Cofie was back on the substitutes bench for this game, where Sheffield United stretched their unbeaten start to 14 league games despite a very unconvincing performance against 10 man Walsall.
The Blades were on top in the opening stages, and looked set to be on course for a big victory as Dean Holden was sent off for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity when he brought down Dave Kitson in the penalty area. Nick Blackman stepped up to bag his 7th of the season and give them the lead just 14 minutes into the game. This would be the only goal in what was a truly awful match to watch. The home side rarely threatened to extend their lead and never forced the Walsall keeper into a meaningful save despite 80 minutes of action against ten men.
The plaudits actually went to young Blades keeper George Long, who has been attracting Premier League interest if rumours are to be believed, as he made an outstanding double save from point blank range to keep his side in front.
John Cofie was introduced to the game in the 55th minute to replace David McAllister, and he would be playing on the right wing. Again, I thought he did very little and he looks a very frustrated figure to be playing on the wing rather than through the middle. He never really got involved in the game, other than a couple of simple touches and passes. It’s a great shame as he appears to be our 4th/5th choice striker at the moment and as I’ve said before, he’s clearly ineffective on the wing as it doesn’t suit his game at all.
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