United battle to the end but must settle for play-offs
Crystal Palace 0 Sheffield United 0
Monday 04 May 2009
Sheffield United maintained their pursuit of the Championship's pacemakers to the very end but Kevin Blackwell's team will have to go the extra mile in the play-offs if they are to play in the Premier League next season.
If there was disappointment at failing to end the regular season on a winning note yesterday, United could take consolation from the fact Birmingham's victory at Reading meant the result at Selhurst Park was academic in terms of the automatic promotion places.
United have been the division's form team of late, but until the latter stages here they rarely looked like top-flight contenders. Chris Morgan headed against a post in injury time as United threw men forward, but they could easily have lost had Crystal Palace not squandered a number of chances early in the second half.
Blackwell complained that his team should have had two penalties for fouls on Darius Henderson and hailed Julian Speroni, the Palace goalkeeper, as his man of the match. Palace had little to play for but their pride and manager Neil Warnock admitted the build-up had been difficult. A former United manager and a lifelong supporter, he said he was relieved he could now sit back and support them in the play-offs, where they face Preston North End.
David Cotterill was the source of United's best work, but for long periods Henderson's aerial threat looked the only likely source of a goal. He headed wide at the far post from a cross by Cotterill, who twice went close with shots inside the area.
It was Palace who started brighter after the break, Victor Moses firing narrowly wide after Shefki Kuqi's flick-on and Neil Danns shooting beyond the far post after a slick move on the edge of the penalty area. Paddy Kenny parried another Danns effort and was relieved to see the Palace midfielder collide with a colleague, Nick Carle, in the rush to meet the rebound.
Lee Hills and Rui Fonte both squandered further chances, though it was United who finished the stronger as Speroni made fine saves from Greg Halford's header and Jamie Ward's point-blank effort. The goalkeeper was finally beaten three minutes into injury time, but was relieved to see Morgan's header rattle a post.
Crystal Palace (4-3-2-1): Speroni; Lawrence, J Fonte, McCarthy, Hill; Danns (Scowcroft, 90), Ertl, Carle; Stokes (Hills, 72), Moses (R Fonte, 55); Kuqi. Substitutes not used: Clyne, Cadogan.
Sheffield United (4-4-2): Kenny; Walker, Morgan, Kilgallon, Naughton; Cotterill, Montgomery, Quinn (Webber, 89), Halford; Ward (Lupoli, 74), Henderson (Beattie, 74). Substitutes not used: Hendrie, O'Toole.
Referee: C Foy (Merseyside).
Booked: Crystal Palace Lawrence, Ertl.
Man of the match: Cotterill.
Latest in Sport
Petr Cech demands talks over Chelsea future as Thibaut Courtois begs him to stay – as mentor
Angel Di Maria: Manchester United to push ahead with £50m move for Real Madrid winger
Marcos Rojo to Manchester United: Sporting Lisbon confirm deal with Nani heading back to Portugal on loan
Sami Khedira to Arsenal: Midfield omitted from Real Madrid squad for Spanish Super Cup
David Gold furious after Carlton Cole parody account mocks up a picture of West Ham chairman as a suspect in the Madeleine McCann case
- 1 Michael Brown shooting: Police shoot and kill second young black man near Ferguson
- 2 James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – and warns Obama of more to come
- 3 Why are UK rail fares so expensive?
- 4 Here’s the damning letter Robin Williams wrote to his Mrs Doubtfire co-star's principal after they expelled her
- 5 Cilla Black defends Cliff Richard: 'I am positive that the allegations are without foundation'
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Russell Brand calls for Israel boycott: Comedian urges big businesses that 'facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza' to pull funding
Ukip MEP calls for reintroduction of death penalty on fiftieth anniversary of last deaths
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head