Football: Blades suffer yet another unkind cut

Sheffield United 1 Rushden & Diamonds 1

ANOTHER SORRY chapter in the story of Sheffield United's depressing season contrived to make FA Cup heroes out of their friends from the Nationwide Conference.

For as hard as Rushden & Diamonds toiled to secure their third-round replay they were seriously aided and abetted by the troubled First Division side.

The Blades chairman, Derek Dooley, notches up his 70th birthday today, but will he have the heart to raise a glass in celebration? Scarcely, as he contemplates the poisoned chalice that has become the Bramall Lane chairmanship.

Worse, of course, may follow when these less than dashing Blades visit Nene Park a week tomorrow for the second instalment. Yet, paradoxically, this was the result the Diamonds manager, Brian Talbot, did not want for a club whose main aim is to graduate to the Football League.

By hook or by crook, United seemed determined to make sure they were going to get it, and by way of complicity missed a 66th-minute penalty. That curious piece of action made a hero out of the former Northampton goalkeeper, Billy Turley, who dived to his right to save from Jonathan Hunt.

However, the kick was executed with so little conviction that Mrs Turley might have been hard-pushed not to have fallen on the ball.

With that penalty miss came redemption for defender Paul Underwood, whose handling offence presented Hunt with a golden opportunity.

Such is life at Sheffield United, a club sinking in a sea of debt and with a penchant for self destruction. With a little more due care and attention, though, they could have driven safely into the fourth round.

They started brightly and appeared to have too much for the Diamonds, whose defence seemed seriously flawed. But instead of running away with the tie they put away just one of the huge pile of chances they created in a one-sided opening half, when Marcus Bent rose unchallenged to head in Paul Devlin's deep cross.

The new manager, Neil Warnock, must have thought that was game, set, if not exactly match. "But instead of burying them we gave Rushden so many lifts," complained Warnock, who cut his own managerial teeth in the non-League scene with Scarborough.

The biggest of those leg-ups was arranged a minute before half-time when the Australian midfield player, Jon Brady, crossed from the left, but instead of gathering safely goalkeeper Simon Tracey inexplicably allowed the ball to slither through his grasp, conceding an unlikely equaliser.

Talbot, whose up-and-coming team gave Leeds United of the Premiership a fright at the same stage of this competition last season, confirmed he could do without the replay. However he insisted: "I believe we have the character and resilience to cope with the extra demands. In the end our goalkeeper was the hero but I think we had several heroes out there."

Goals: Bent (14) 1-0; Brady (45) 1-1.

Sheffield United (3-5-2): Tracey; Derry, Murphy, Ford; Devlin, Ribeiro (Hamilton, h-t), Hunt (Smeets, 79), Woodhouse, Quinn; Smith (Kachuro, 79), Bent. Substitutes not used: Cullen, Duke (gk).

Rushden & Diamonds (4-4-2): Turley; Wooding, Rodwell, Warburton, Underwood; Brady, McElhatton, Butterworth, Burgess (De Souza, 67), Town (Heggs, 89), Collins. Substitutes not used: Hamsher, Mison, Smith (gk).

Referee: B Knight (Orpington).

Bookings: Sheffield United: Woodhouse, Hamilton. Rushden: McElhatton.

Man of the match: Turley.

Attendance: 10,104.

people And here is why...
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?