Sheffield United’s hopes of an automatic promotion finish took a major blow at the weekend, as they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to relegation candidates Millwall.
Chris Wilder’s men would have known that a win over the Lions will have put the pressure back on Leeds United, who were gearing up to face United’s arch rivals Sheffield Wednesday later on in the afternoon.
After a drab first-half, Gary Madine fired the Blades in front almost immediately after the half-time interval, news that those at Elland Road would not have wanted to hear at all.
But the tide quickly turned in Millwall’s favour – they did a miss a penalty late on when John Egan was dismissed for handball, but finally got what they deserved when Jake Cooper headed home a stoppage-time equaliser.
To rub even more salt into United’s wounds, Leeds picked up 1-0 win over the Owls later on, to create a three-point gap between themselves and the Blades with just four games left to play this term.
Here, we take a look at three things we learnt about United after the weekend…
They need to make their chances count
There was a distinct lack of quality from United at the weekend, who just weren’t able to convert the chances that came their way.
The Blades registered 14 shots in the weekend encounter, but only managed to record two on target – that simply isn’t good enough for a team chasing promotion in such a vital game.
There is no room for error at this stage of the season, and they need to improve next week, regardless of if they have Billy Sharp available or not.
They cannot afford to allow teams dominate
After the game, Chris Wilder shared his frustrations at his team letting a 1-0 lead slip, as his side looked to sit back and invite pressure.
Right up until Madine’s goal, United looked by far the most comfortable team, and simply dominated the possession stats.
But as soon as they scored, they looked like a team who thought they had secured three points, and ultimately paid the price for letting Millwall come on to them and pile the pressure on.
This cannot happen again.
They simply must bounce back
United’s 1-0 away win at Leeds United less than a month ago seems like a distant memory now, with Marcelo Bielsa’s men making the Blades pay for their missed chances at the weekend and moving three points clear of 3rd spot.
With just four games left to play this season, the pressure really is on United to bounce back as they have done all season, and they must do so starting with a home clash against Nottingham Forest this weekend, otherwise their dreams of automatic promotion could well be over.