Sheffield United 2 Doncaster Rovers 2: Blades cut apart by Sharp before salvaging late point

THE one that got away so nearly put Sheffield United to the sword. Not Sean O'Driscoll but striker Billy Sharp.

However, the Blades salvaged a point in the most dramatic style to toast new manager Micky Adams's first home game in charge.

Just two weeks ago, Rovers manager O'Driscoll was willing to talk about the possibility of a move to Bramall Lane.

Ultimately, he stayed with Rovers and his suitors opted instead for Adams, a lifelong Blades supporter who has won promotions with three different clubs.

With four minutes to play yesterday, Sharp – another lifelong Blades supporter – had stolen the limelight from both managers, scoring twice to put Rovers – reduced to 10 men by the dismissal of Dennis Souza – on the brink of a 2-0 victory.

Yet, amazingly, goals from substitute Daniel Bogdanovic and defender Rob Kozluk – six minutes into stoppage time – earned the Blades a share of the spoils.

Adams had milked his Bramall Lane introduction – and made a point of running over to the Kop before the game, bowing and flinging a red and white scarf into the front rows.

O'Driscoll, meanwhile, had been serenaded by his supporters as soon as he emerged from the tunnel to take up occupancy in the visitors' technical area.

Adams had been without four suspended players for the opening game of his reign, a 4-2 defeat at Burnley.

Both Nick Montgomery and Kyle Bartley returned but Stephen Quinn and loanee Andy Reid, who has now gone back to Sunderland, were still banned. There were a total of five changes with Richard Wright, Nyron Nosworthy and Matt Lowton ruled out and Leon Britton and Jean Calve only fit enough to start on the bench.

Argentinian defender Elian Parrino made his first start and veteran Kozluk started a league game for the first time since returning to Bramall Lane last summer. Steve Simonsen replaced Wright in goal.

O'Driscoll recalled defenders Souza and Adam Lockwood in the absence of the suspended Sam Hird and the injured Shelton Martis.

With Brian Stock also unavailable after picking up a knock against Scunthorpe United, there was a return in midfield for Dean Shiels.

Inconsistent Rovers had recorded back-to-back victories for the first time in nine months courtesy of the Scunthorpe win and looked the more confident early on with Simonsen forced into a brilliant close-range save at a corner from Souza.

The Brazilian's was the first name into the referee's notebook on 17 minutes when he was adjudged to have obstructed the fast pedalling Mark Yeates.

Adams makes it quite clear that he wants the Blades to put the ball in the opposition's penalty box as quickly as possible. In his programme notes, he also stressed that 'hustle and bustle alone' won't succeed.

There was certainly plenty of 'hustle and bustle' from the Blades yesterday and, occasionally, flashes of excitement. More importantly, his side worked hard to knock Rovers off their stride and limited their time on the ball.

It was also noticeable just how positively home supporters reacted to players chasing lost causes or throwing bodies at the ball. Some will also ask, however, why that has ever been lacking.

The Blades started the second half the brighter and striker Ched Evans spurned a golden opportunity to break the deadlock.

The Welsh international surged beyond Joseph Mills to reach a long ball from Simonsen but, foolishly, tried to head over Neil Sullivan instead of shooting which made it easy for the goalkeeper.

Moments later, Evans was sent crashing to the deck by Souza and referee Tony Bates produced a second yellow card reducing Rovers to 10 men.

If the Blades thought that would be the catalyst for victory, they were about to be rocked on their heels.

Just nine minutes after Souza's departure, Sharp silenced Bramall Lane with a close-range strike following good work by Coppinger.

Bates then pointed to the penalty spot after Kozluk charged into the back of Coppinger and Sharp slammed in his second.

Sold by the Blades last summer after a fall-out with former manager Kevin Blackwell, Sharp makes no secret of his undying support for the club.

He was entitled to look slightly miffed when substituted near the end to boos from the majority of the home fans.

As so often happens at Bramall Lane, the Blades were roared on to a thrilling finale.

Bogdanovic's goal offered hope before Kozluk, who had scored only two goals in nearly 350 appearances for the club, volleyed home in front of the Kop.

Sheffield United: Simonsen; Parrino, Ertl, Bartley, Kozluk; Yeates, Montgomery, Williamson (Harriott 85), Cresswell (Bogdanovic 78); Ward (Britton 72), Evans. Unused substitutes: Calve, Long, James, Slew.

Doncaster Rovers: Sullivan; O'Connor, Lockwood, Souza, Mills; Oster; Coppinger (Webster 90), Wilson, Shiels (Chambers 61), Hayter; Sharp (Healy 90). Unused substitutes: Brooker, Gillett, Fairhurst, G.Woods.

Referee: A Bates (Staffordshire)