Sheffield United 0 Bournemouth 0: A poor refereeing decision and missed chances stymie Blades
That was a game they should have won, but didn’t. Firstly, they reckoned without the brilliance of Cherries custodian Mark Travers, who made superb saves in each half to deny Morgan Gibbs-White.
A glorious chance also arrived to the wrong player in stoppage-time in Filip Uremovic, whose only blemish in an otherwise excellence performance came when he fired over with the goal at his mercy after latching onto Ben Davies’s knockdown from Conor Hourihane’s free-kick.
Another force contributed to United not winning, with referee Dean Whitestone rebuffing a stonewall penalty late on following Nat Phillips’ heavy challenge on Gibbs-White.
A point it was. Not the worst one for United, but it should have been all three. And unfortunately, Billy Sharp was not on the scene. He would have converted at least if not two of the Blades big opportunities. If not all three.
Scott Parker admitted he was ‘really surprised’ at his side’s tough itinerary in having to face a second long trip north in comfortably less than 72 hours and his Cherries team certainly played like a side who looked a little travel-weary throughout the game.
United were their usual stingy selves at the back as their mean defensive statistics on home soil continued where Wes Foderingham was really troubled.
At the opposite end, the hosts’ efforts were not quite as exemplary in terms of finishing. The intent and pressure was there, but not the killer touch.
Still, attacking the Kop in the second period, there was consolation for the Blades in that if the pressure continued, then a goal would surely transpire.
That said, United missed a couple of big chances in the first period and should have really taken in a lead when they exited the fray at the interval.
Their best opportunity came just before the half-time whistle when a break upfield ended in Oli McBurnie supplying Gibbs-White, whose rising drive was tipped over splendidly at his near post by Travers. The opposite corner lay open.
McBurnie’s goal drought has become infamous and he also spurned a big opportunity just before the half-hour, delaying ever so slightly before digging out a shot which took a deflection off Cherries captain Liam Kelly ahead of flying just over.
Earlier, Kelly had almost conceded an own goal, with his clearance hitting the bar from Norwood’s corner from the left.
The intensity came from United, with Bournemouth, whose players possessed a regular propensity to hit the deck, couldn’t get going.
The hosts had the first opportunity of the second half with Ben Davies heading over from Gibbs-White’s centre as the chances started to stack up.
At the other end, a clearance from John Fleck, intended to deflect against his own player to relieve some pressure, flew across goal in a rare moment of danger for Foderingham while the officiating of Whitestone increasingly infuriated home supporters as the rain started to pelt down.
For their part, Bournemouth were seeing more of the game, but did not do anything piercing with it as United continued to look the more likely with Parker resisting the urge to freshen up his jaded looking side.
Travers then produced his second big save after McBurnie won a flick-on to deny Gibbs-White after the loanee was sent clear.
A rare Cherries chance then arrived with Kelly’s close-range effort flying just over following an assist from Phillips, who rose highest following Ryan Christie’s centre.
A big penalty appeal was then rebuffed in front of the Kop before Uremovic spurned his big moment.
Sheffield United: Foderingham; Uremovic, Egan, B Davies; Baldock, Berge (Hourihane 82), Norwood, Fleck (Osborn 72), Stevens; Gibbs-White, McBurnie. Substitutes unused: A Davies, Robinson, Ndiaye, Norrington-Davies, Jebbison.
Bournemouth: Travers; Smith, Phillips, Kelly, Zemura (Brady 89); Lerma, Cook, Billing; Christie, Solanke, Dembele (Anthony 74). Substitutes unused: Woodman, Mepham, Cantwell, Lowe, Pearson.