Sheffield United: Clough rues lost opportunity as Blades falter

Sheffield United training session  16.3.15'Pic Martyn Harrison' Nigel Clough   - Sheffield United ''� copyright : Blades Sports Photography

Sheffield United training session 16.3.15'Pic Martyn Harrison' Nigel Clough - Sheffield United ''� copyright : Blades Sports Photography

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SHEFFIELD UNITED manager Nigel Clough was left to rue a frustrating afternoon as his side’s bid to make it three back-to-back wins at home floundered in a 2-1 loss to last-gasp Crewe.

The winner came in the 90th minute when Ryan Colclough’s deflected strike flew past Mark Howard - the midfielder netting in his comeback game after 16 months out to clinch the Cheshire club’s first-ever win at Bramall Lane in 14 attempts.

The loss represented an opportunity lost for the fifth-placed Blades in their bid to add to their points cushion ahead of the chasing play-off pack and represented just what they didn’t need ahead of Easter derbies with rivals Barnsley and Doncaster.

Lauri Dalla Valle put Crewe ahead on 12 minutes after the Blades rearguard was dissected.

The hosts levelled on 54 minutes when Jamie Murphy set up Jason Holt, with the loanee finishing neatly low past Paul Rachubka for his second goal in consecutive home games.

But there was a sting in the tail thanks to Colclough’s long ranger.

Lamenting a missed opportunity, Clough said: “It was a very frustrating afternoon for us and very frustrating not to win the game. To lose in the 90th minute makes it unbelievably so.

“We have had two good home wins this week and were looking forward to this one and trying to get a third and it didn’t quite work out.

“We are not happy after today. There are five points in it (above the seventh placed) with a better goal difference, but the opportunity was to put a bit of daylight between us and the chasing pack and this just makes it more difficult in the last seven games.”

Clough, who saw Ryan Flynn and Jose Baxter leave the fray with ankle problems, added: “We deserved something from the game, without a doubt. In the second half, we had enough pressure and got the goal and then it was all us trying to break them down.

“But I thought Crewe defended very well and were very organised and were always a threat on the break.

“It was how it got to him for us. It was bit fortunate in that they got a free-kick deflected for a corner and then the winner was deflected off the top of Paul Coutts’ head past Mark Howard.

“It had a couple of deflections; we could have done with one at the other end.”

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