The Verdict – Sheffield United stunned in FA Cup after having no answer to lowly Barnet

Blades boss Chris Wilder shakes the hands of Barnet's players after the FA Cup tie.
Blades boss Chris Wilder shakes the hands of Barnet's players after the FA Cup tie.
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MANAGER Chris Wilder, hands buried deep in pockets on the touchline, barely moved as the final whistle blew to signal Sheffield United were out of the FA Cup.

Not even his players filing past a couple of minutes later on the way down the tunnel with the boos of the home fans ringing in their ears could budge the 51-year-old.

He was determined to wait for Barnet’s celebrations to subside, no matter how long it took.

Wilder wanted to congratulate the London club’s players in person, such had been the manner of their performance in becoming the first non-League team to beat United at Bramall Lane for more than a century.

Eventually the first couple broke away from the joyous scenes being played out in front of the 966 travelling fans and made their way towards the touchline.

Suddenly the couple of thousand home fans still making their own way out of the main stand broke into an impromptu round of applause.

Wilder wanted to congratulate the London club’s players in person, such had been the manner of their performance in becoming the first non-League team to beat United at Bramall Lane for more than a century.

Richard Sutcliffe

With Wilder then making a point of shaking the hand of every single Barnet player, even the unused substitutes, it was a classy end to what had been an otherwise desperate afternoon for the Blades.

The Championship side were awful. Truly awful. Not one player in red and white can look back on this with anything but a sense of acute embarrassment after being outclassed by National League Barnet who sit 85 places lower in the football pyramid.

Darren Currie’s side were everything that United were not. Attack-minded, resolute in defence and full of running, the Bees belied their lowly status and, if anything, could have won by a much more convincing margin.

In Shaquile Coulthirst, the match-winner from the penalty spot, and Ephron Mason-Clarke, Barnet had pace to burn up front. They also had Dan Sweeney, a towering influence who made sure even a belated late rally from the hosts was never going to be enough.

Barnet can now look forward to tonight’s fourth-round draw, dreaming of landing a plum tie at The Hive against one of the Premier League big boys.

United, meanwhile, must move on quickly from their first home defeat to non-League opposition since Darlington, then of the North East League, triumphed in the Cup at Bramall Lane in 1911.

Queens Park Rangers are next up for Wilder’s side and there is likely to be 11 changes to yesterday’s starting XI.

That, though, does not mean this sorry showing can be forgotten. Far from it, in fact, with this defeat suggesting United’s resources do not run as deep as Wilder believed.

Certainly, no-one in the side yesterday will surely be banging on the manager’s door any time soon demanding to know why they are not in the team.

Leon Clarke probably had the most difficult afternoon, the striker looking a shadow of the striker who finished joint third in the Championship goalscoring charts last season.

But the 33-year-old was far from his own in struggling against a team sitting 15th in the fifth tier with Conor Washington anonymous and the game largely passing by Paul Coutts.

Kieran Dowell had a couple of promising moments on debut but, otherwise, United were second best all over the pitch.

The move that led to the 20th-minute winner was typical of how Barnet’s pace and intent hurt the Championship promotion hopefuls.

Lovely play on the left flank by Coulthirst saw the ball held up long enough for support to arrive in numbers.

With two United defenders having followed the former Tottenham Hotspur trainee out wide, a quick pass inside to the advancing Mason-Clark meant the hosts were suddenly stretched.

Richard Stearman, unable to keep pace with the jet-heeled attacker, slid in but clipped Mason-Clark and not the ball.

Coulthirst did the rest from 12 yards with a penalty that Simon Moore was unable to keep out despite getting a hand to.

Barnet deserved their lead, Coulthirst having earlier nodded the ball past Moore from close range only for a raised flag for offside to cut short his celebrations.

Two last-gasp tackles from Stearman had also been required to prevent, first, Mason-Clarke and then Coulthirst from having a shot on goal as the enterprising visitors belied their lowly status.

As the home side left the field at the interval to a smattering of boos, Wilder’s stern expression betrayed the dressing room blasting that was about to head his players’ way.

Barnet, however, continued to dominate after the restart and had three early opportunities to double their lead.

First, Coulthirst seemed set to pounce on a squared pass from Mason-Clark only to be denied by Marvin Johnson. From the resulting corner, Moore had to claw away a looping header from Callum Reynolds before the biggest let-off for the hosts came when Sweeney stood on the ball two yards out at the back post.

Wilder turned to Billy Sharp and Mark Duffy for a spark but Barnet stood firm to pull off a fully deserved upset.

Sheffield United: Moore; Cranie, Stearman, Bryan (Basham 64); Freeman, Lundstram (Sharp 65), Coutts, Dowell, Johnson; Washington (Duffy 58), Clarke. Unused substitutes: Henderson, Stevens, Egan, McGoldrick.

Barnet: Cousins; Alexander, Reynolds, Robson, Johnson; Adams, Taylor, Sweeney, Elito (Tutonda 80); Coulthirst (Harrison 80), Mason-Clark (Fonguck 58). Unused substitutes: Matrevics, Akinola, Walker, Bettamer.