AARON RAMSDALE is someone whom Chris Wilder is unlikely to forget.
Not only did the Sheffield United manager once sell the young goalkeeper just an hour before getting married in London on transfer deadline day.
But, for so long on the 51-year-old’s bow as a Premier League manager, Ramsdale threatened to make sure it was an unhappy return to the big time for the Blades.
His two first-half saves to deny David McGoldrick and Callum Robinson, plus some impressive handling in the Bournemouth goal, paved the way for Chris Mepham to put the hosts in front just after the hour mark.
A goal behind and with the opening day contest entering the closing stages, Wilder had cause to bemoan once again a goalkeeper who had threatened to disrupt his January, 2016, nuptials.
I sold ‘Rammers’ an hour before I got married.Chris Wilder
Then, though, came the dénouement that the Blades chief craved via a late equaliser from Billy Sharp.
Cue celebrations that were a mixture of joy, relief and pride that Yorkshire’s sole top-flight representative had got the reward that their efforts deserved.
“I sold ‘Rammers’ an hour before I got married,” said Wilder after being asked about the irony of his one-time goalkeeper frustrating United for so long on the south coast.
“It was transfer deadline day and I was getting married in London. We had a ’phone call from Bournemouth, wanting to sort the deal out. I was in a restaurant having a bite to eat.
“He (Ramsdale) tried to balls that up for me! It was like, deal done, bang, now let’s get my suit on. Within an hour of selling ‘Rammers’, I was married.”
Wilder may have cut it fine on his wedding day. But his side left it even later to get the business done at Dean Court.
Just two minutes remained when Oliver Norwood cleverly disguised a short free-kick that released George Baldock.
With the home defence slow to react, the United wing back had sufficient time to look up and pick out Oli McBurnie.
United’s record signing took a swing at the ball but failed to connect properly, allowing Nathan Ake to block in front of the line.
Sharp, just as he has been all his career, was in the right place at the right time to pounce and finally break Ramsdale’s resistance on his competitive debut for Bournemouth.
Such was his joy that even all thoughts about VAR possibly cutting short the celebrations were forgotten.
“I did not even think about VAR for one second,” said Sharp. “I am just glad there was nothing wrong with it – I would have looked stupid at going mental.”
United may have left it late but there could be no doubt that the visitors were worthy of an opening day point.
The best two chances of the opening hour had both fallen to the Blades, the first after only 36 seconds.
John Lundstram, part of a three-man central midfield alongside Norwood and John Fleck that looked perfectly at home in the top flight, created the opportunity with a quite exquisite 30-yard pass to release McGoldrick.
Ramsdale proved equal to the Republic of Ireland international’s shot, just as he did in the 20th minute when called on to beat away a 25-yard effort from Robinson.
Robinson’s sight of goal had come via a rare foray forward in the first half by Jack O’Connell, who together with Chris Basham had been such an important cog in the promotion machine last season via that ability to race deep into opposition territory.
Ryan Fraser being so far advanced he was effectively playing as a third forward for Bournemouth played a part in pinning the United duo back, at least until the hosts went ahead on 63 minutes.
Dean Henderson had just pulled off a stunning one-handed save to deny Philip Billing on debut following his £15m switch from Huddersfield Town.
He also then kept out Callum Wilson’s scuffed effort amid a goalmouth scramble that ended with Mepham eventually firing in from close range.
Wilder’s reaction was to grant his players increasing licence to get forward before one final change saw the defence switch to a back four and Sharp introduced from the bench.
The Blades captain had eight minutes to deliver but took just six to ensure Ramsdale was this time unable to spoil Wilder’s big day.
“I will always remember ‘Rammers’ for my wedding,” added the United chief. “But also because he is a good kid. He has a fabulous future ahead of him.
“Maybe one of the little bits of regret is that this club has had to move players on. Dom (Calvert-Lewin) had to be moved on, Rammers and even Brooksy (David Brooks).
“It has been a brilliant move for him. He went to the right club in Bournemouth in terms of his development. But we want to keep those players we produce. Unfortunately, we had to move them on. Hopefully, now that will change.”