Preston North End stretched their unbeaten run in the Championship to four games after a last-gasp Emil Riis goal secured a 2-2 draw at Sheffield United.
Sander Berge’s strike in the 84th minute looked to have won the Blades all three points, after Morgan Gibbs-White and Daniel Johnson traded first-half goals.
However, it was Riis having the final say at Bramall Lane, finishing emphatically on 95 minutes.
— Alfie Burns (@BurnsAlfie) September 14, 2021
Slavisa Jokanovic’s side started well in possession, zipping the ball around the midfield, clearly buoyed by a first league win of the season last Saturday. However, the better openings fell to North End.
Riis wasted a good position and Josh Earl could only fire a Johnson diagonal across goal on five minutes.
That second chance would be punished not long after.
Patrick Bauer failed to clear a routine ball through the middle, allowing Luke Freeman to pick up the pieces. The playmaker’s cross eventually fell the way of Gibbs-White, who made no mistake in punching the Blades ahead.
Billy Sharp almost doubled that lead, but his header was the wrong side of Daniel Iversen’s post following more space to attack on the left.
Riis’ heavy challenge on Oliver Norwood brought the game’s first yellow card and also complaints from Sheffield United players wanting the North End striker dismissed.
The Blades, though, could have few complaints about the away side’s equaliser.
A raking ball from Ryan Ledson found Johnson’s run, with the precision of the pass causing mayhem. Robin Olsen – on debut in goal for the Blades – came, allowing Johnson to touch around him and finish for 1-1.
Sharp snatched at an opening to restore Sheffield United’s lead and Norwood hit a rasping drive inches over the crossbar.
Frankie McAvoy’s side were still in the fight, though, attacking strongly and forcing Jack Robinson into a desperate tackle to halt Sean Maguire.
It was then Olsen’s turn to deny a strike from Maguire, who was causing a number of problems alongside Johnson.
In response, Jokanovic watched his side finish the first-half strongly. Freeman wasted a great opportunity to re-establish the lead on 42 minutes, leaning back to blaze George Baldock’s cross over after tidy interplay.
That passage of play from Sheffield United was the sign of what a talented attacking unit can build, with the second-half starting in similar fashion.
Gibbs-White’s intelligence on the ball created space for Sharp in the area and he was unlucky to see a deflected shot held by Iversen.
McAvoy will have been frustrated by Maguire’s wastefulness on the counter, as Preston looked to hold off a strong Sheffield United period.
Despite trying to get on top of the game in-front of their own supporters, there were warnings for Sheffield United still; Riis breezing past Robinson and flashing wide heading into the hour.
That Riis chance came as Preston enjoyed a better spell. Brad Potts then headed a Ledson free-kick off-target not long after coming off the bench.
At the other end, Iversen kept McAvoy’s side in the contest, standing up to deny John Fleck’s dinked attempt following the Scottish international’s driving run out of midfield.
By now, the game had become stretched and a breakthrough at either end felt like it could happen.
Riis and Preston were superbly denied by Olsen and, then, in a flash, Sheffield United took the lead.
Fleck got the Blades going forwards and, via a touch from Sharp, the ball eventually found its way to Berge, who smashed a shot through Iversen.
Sharp tested the Preston goalkeeper once more, with there a lingering feeling that Berge’s strike wasn’t the last we’d seen of the goals.
And, true enough, deep into added time at the end of the second-half, Jordan Storey kept a free-kick alive and found Riis, who sent the travelling North End fans into utter chaos with a close range finish.
FT: Sheffield United 2-2 Preston North End.