Sheffield United 1 Colchester United 1: Taylor taking blame for Blades’ poor start after Lane stalemate

A LINESMAN’S offside flag may have robbed Lyle Taylor of a dream Bramall Lane debut, but the Sheffield United striker was quick to shoulder the blame.

Lyle Taylor and Magnus Okuonghae

For the 23-year-old summer signing from Falkirk – making his first home start after two previous substitute appearances – struggled to cope with the frenetic opening to life in League One.

It took a crunching tackle from a Colchester defender to shake up Taylor, the lone striker helping to spearhead United’s revival after trailing to Freddie Sears’s breakaway goal.

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Centre-half Harry Maguire conjured up a spectacular equaliser – courtesy of a goalkeeping error by Sam Walker – and Taylor thought he had nicked a late winner in front of the Kop only for it to be chalked off for offside.

Afterwards, Taylor held his hand up for a lacklustre beginning.

“It was a slow start for me and it was a slow start for the team,” he said.

“I think that had an effect, with me not starting quickly, on the rest of the team.

“It’s difficult when we play with one up front and there’s no link-up with the rest of the team.

“I failed to provide that for the first 10 or 15 minutes. It took me getting dragged to the ground by a centre-half to actually get me into the game. We then grew into it as a team.

“You have to look at yourself before you look at anybody else. I thought I improved as the game went on.

“Playing in England is quicker and a lot tougher physically. The start of the game (on Saturday) was a little bit of a shock for me.”

Taylor’s honesty is refreshing, and it reflects the youthful approach by David Weir’s side – five of the starting XI on Saturday were under 21.

“The manager has backed me by bringing me in and playing me,” said Taylor, who netted 23 goals in the Scottish First Division last year.

“It’s up to me now; the manager has put his faith in me and I have to do it on the pitch.

“It’s now my job to put the work in and help the team win games.

“It is tough playing up front (as a lone striker), but ask Tony McMahon how hard it is against a quick winger who wants to go at you?

“It’s tough there. How tough is it playing against Jabo Ibehre? It’s tough for our two centre-halves.

“It’s a job, there’s no place on the pitch to hide. You just have to do better than the man you are playing against.

“I am adapting to the role. I will keep working. I started slow and gradually built myself into the game.

“It’s positive I did that, but I need to do it from the first minute.

“As soon as the whistle goes I need to be ready to go and that’s something I need to work at.

“I played on my own up front all least season. It’s the way the game’s gone, there’s not many places where you play two up front. You play one up, and one just behind.

“That’s the modern game and how we are doing it. If you can’t deal with it, you won’t play.”

Weir made three changes to the starting XI which lost at Brentford the previous time out.

Tony McMahon, Sean McGinty and Callum McFadzean all came in.

It was right-back McMahon who went closest to opening the scoring with a sumptuous 25-yard effort which whizzed beyond goalkeeper Walker’s right-hand post.

The opening 24 minutes had seen United in control with an air of expectation resonating around Bramall Lane.

So the famous old ground was stunned into silence when the visitors broke away to snatch the lead.

United lost possession from their own corner, the ball was swiftly moved forward and with three against two, Sears was on hand to poke the ball beyond Blades goalkeeper George Long.

Twice, the bustling figure of striker Ibehre went close to doubling the advantage, only alert defending from Neill Collins getting United out of trouble.

The patient passing game of Weir’s team was trailing to the direct, physical approach of Colchester.

The key word here was patience as Sanchez Watt tried his luck from 25 yards, before Blades youngster Conor Coady – the England Under-20s captain on a six-month loan from Liverpool – was booked for scything down the former Leeds United winger.

That patience finally paid off when Maguire netted an equaliser just before half-time, his shot squirming from Walker’s grasp, much to the relief of the 17,167 crowd inside Bramall Lane.

“Harry’s goal was a good strike, I don’t know what the goalkeeper has done with it.,” said Taylor. “I don’t think he fancied catching it, to be honest.

“Then in the second half we have gone at them and gave them everything we have got. I thought we were unfortunate not to take the three points.”

Taylor himself had the United fans on their feet after the break when he rolled his marker to create space, but his fierce drive was straight at Walker, who also denied Coady’s far-post header moments later.

The small band of travelling fans thought they had retaken the lead when Ibehre poked home a free- kick only for the linesman’s flag to rule out the ‘goal’ for offside.

Walker was definitely the busier of the goalkeepers and the Colchester stopper had to rush from his line to thwart Taylor once more as United chased a winner.

Taylor thought he had snatched a dramatic winner in front of the Kop, but once again the linesman’s flag intervened.

With four points from the Blades’ first three games, it is a solid start to the season for Weir’s side and London-born Taylor is confident they have the potential to prosper.

“We would like to have had more points,” he said. “The way we have played, second half today and Notts County, is positive.

“The second half at Brentford we were better. A couple of mistakes, but everybody is going to make mistakes the way we play.

“It’s a work in progress, and we are working towards a goal. We are on our way, we are not there and are a long way from where we want to be.

“We are working at it and will continue to work hard as a team. It’s the whole squad, pushing in the same direction.”

Sheffield United: Long, McMahon, Maguire, Collins, McGinty, Coady, Doyle, Murphy, Brandy, McFadzean (Johns 75), Taylor. Unused substitutes: Westlake, Hill, McGinn, Eyre, Porter.

Colchester United: Walker, Dickson, Okuonghae, Eastman, Wilson, Da Wright, Eastmond, Watt (Dr Wright 61), Sears (Bond 66), Massey, Ibehre (Morrison 80). Unused substitutes: Cousins, Thompson, Bean, Gilbey.

Referee: R Clark (Northumberland).