Big-match verdict: Sheffield United 0 Norwich City 1 - Record ends but sent-off Chris Wilder defiant despite striker crisis

Answering the call: Striker Ched Evans defied an ankle problem to lead the line for the Blades against  Norwich City. 
Picture: Simon Bellis/SportimageAnswering the call: Striker Ched Evans defied an ankle problem to lead the line for the Blades against  Norwich City. 
Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Answering the call: Striker Ched Evans defied an ankle problem to lead the line for the Blades against Norwich City. Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Hillsborough officials may have to leave two seats vacant in the South Stand for Sunday's highly-anticipated Steel City derby.

Sheffield Wednesday coach Carlos Carvalhal has only just returned from a two-match touchline ban and his opposite number, Chris Wilder, ended up watching Saturday’s defeat to Norwich City from the stands.

Referee Scott Duncan ordered Wilder to leave the dug-out after the Blades chief – frustrated with the visitors’ gamesmanship and time-wasting – entered Norwich’s technical area to kick the ball back for a throw-in.

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He now faces an anxious wait to see if the Football Association take any further action, although a touchline ban for Sunday’s derby seems unlikely.

However, despite their different backgrounds and upbringing, Portuguese coach Carvalhal and boyhood Blades fan Wilder are hugely passionate characters and the Sheffield derby will be a major test of their ability to stay calm in a feisty contest.

Asked if he could face punishment for his sending off, Wilder said: “I don’t know, we will have to deal with that if it happens.

“I would be disappointed. The thing I said to the referee was: ‘This is a passionate game’.

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“Should I have stepped into their technical area? By the letter of the law, possibly not.

“Should he (the referee) have gone to me and said: ‘Next time you step into the technical area, I am going to send you to the stand’? That puts me on a warning.

“Fair enough, I did wrong. I booted the ball back, stepped into their technical area.

“There’s obviously a couple of bottles in front of the ball, which went a bit. I didn’t injure anybody, cause any harm to anybody.

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“I wasn’t picking the ball up and chucking it in the stand, throwing it at the referee.

“I have passed the ball back to get the game going.”

United – who missed the chance to go top of the Championship with a win on Saturday – suffered their first home defeat since January, due to Yanic Wildschut’s first-half goal.

Despite the Blades bossing possession, they lacked a cutting edge in front of goal.

That was hardly surprising, with five strikers out injured, leaving Ched Evans – himself rated at only “50-60 per cent fit” by Wilder and needing an ankle operation – to play as a lone frontman.

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“He could easily have said: ‘I need an operation’ and not put himself on show,” said Wilder.

“Players get judged when they put a shirt on and go out.

“Quite easily, Ched could have said: ‘I am only going to play when I am close to being 90 per cent fit.’ He obviously needs an operation.

“But he knew we were down on centre-forwards. To lose three in the space of seven days was a big blow to us. For him to stick his hand up and play 90 minutes, I just think that epitomises what the players are all about.”

Midweek injuries ruled out captain Billy Sharp and Leon Clarke, who joined Clayton Donaldson, James Hanson and Caolan Lavery on the sidelines.

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Could they return for the Steel City derby? “Hanson and Lavery, no,” replied Wilder. “Then we will see how the other three rock up.

“Whatever team we can muster together to go there (Hillsborough), we will go there competitive and in good spirits.

“We are back in Tuesday, those players have run through brick walls for me and the football club today and not really got their rewards.

“They have not got anything to feel sorry for themselves about. They can be disappointed not to get something. Whether we deserved to win, who knows, but I thought we deserved something from the game.

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“It’s a great game (the Sheffield derby) to look forward to.”

Evans was starting his first game since returning to United. He was well-supported by exciting youngster David Brooks, the 20-year-old starting his first league game for United.

The Blades were twice thwarted by goalkeeper Angus Gunn, who saved Evans’s header before denying the onrushing Brooks in a one-on-one.

United were guilty of some slack defending, on 23 minutes, James Maddison’s pass finding Wildschut, who drilled the ball beyond Jamal Blackman.

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Paul Coutts and Mark Duffy tried their luck from long distance, before the referee waved away penalty calls after a tackle on Coutts.

United’s patience was tested in the second half as Norwich tried to slow the tempo with time-wasting. But they seemed fortunate not to concede a penalty, when Blackman and Maddison collided in the area and the Blades should have grabbed a deserved point but Brooks blazed over as the game stretched into six minutes of stoppage time.

Wilder spoke with the referee after the game to vent his frustrations. “I had to deal with a couple of little issues. I thought we should have had a penalty in the first half, saying that, they could possibly have had one late on.

“There were time-wasting issues, which is ridiculous. I think referees have got to address that a bit quicker. They are the custodians of the game.”

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Sheffield United: Blackman, Stevens (Thomas 74), Fleck, O’Connell, Basham, Wright, Coutts, Freeman (Baldock 86), Duffy (Carruthers 73), Evans, Brooks. Unused substitutes: Lundstram, Carter-Vickers, Lafferty, Eastwood.

Norwich City: Gunn, Pinto, Zimmermann, Jerome, Murphy (Husband 60), Klose, Wildschut (Watkins 78), Stiepermann, Trybull, Maddison (Hanley 87), Tettey. Unused substitutes: Reed, Vrancic, Hoolahan, McGovern.

Referee: S Duncan (Northumberland).