Sheffield United 1 Rochdale 1: Slow progress enables Blades to get off mark

Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp celebrates scoring the equalising goal against Rochdale. Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp celebrates scoring the equalising goal against Rochdale. Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

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CHRIS WILDER believes significant progress has been made during his short time at the helm at Sheffield United, despite the fact he is still waiting to see his players deliver a first victory of the 2016-17 season.

Billy Sharp’s late goal secured a first point of the new League One campaign, as the Blades look to improve on their 11th-placed finish last time around when, under Wilder’s predecessor Nigel Adkins, they finished 21 points behind champions Wigan.

Wilder insisted the manner of their comeback against Keith Hill’s side vindicates the decision to overhaul Bramall Lane’s first team squad during the summer.

“I think we’ve seen many a game here before where that would have gone on to be a 2-0 or a 3-0 defeat,” he said. “But the lads didn’t give up and that’s good because it’s one of the basics of a strong team.”

There were only eight minutes of normal time remaining when Sharp, the United captain, cancelled out Andy Cannon’s opener for the visitors.

Wilder admitted their performance had fallen short in several key areas but, after producing more convincing displays against Bolton Wanderers and Crewe Alexandra only to lose both games, he added: “Yes, there’s going to be chat about whether we deserved to win or not.

“That’s exactly the same when everyone was talking about whether we deserved to win those two.

“One of the things that’s tough at the moment is that we don’t have much time on the training ground. We missed a day in the week, through our own fault by not putting away Crewe in the (EFL) cup. But you can’t get away from the fact that time on the training ground is very important with regards to putting the pieces of the jigsaw in place.”

Rochdale boss Hill added: “I don’t subscribe to all the politics of football. Who should be winning this game and that game, or they’re a great team and all that stuff. We are a team and we’re a good team at that.

“We didn’t have to silence the crowd. You know what it’s like, they are either angry or ecstatic here. That’s the way it always is.”

Sheffield United: Long, Brayford, Wilson, O’Connell, Hussey, Duffy (Scougall 68), Basham, Fleck, Done (Chapman 59), Clarke, Sharp. Unused substitutes: McNulty, Ramsdale, Wright, Coutts, Freeman.

Rochdale: Lillis, Rafferty, McGahey, Canavan, McNulty, Allen, Henderson, Cannon (Camps 78), Mendez-Laing (Odelusi 68), Andrew, McDermott. Unused substitutes: Conrad Logan, Thomson, Tanser, Morley, Bunney.

Referee: Kevin Johnson (Somerset).

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