2 years ago
Norwich City were narrowly edged out by Sheffield United following a solitary Billy Sharp goal at Bramall Lane.
For large parts City weaved pretty patterns and controlled spells of the game, but were ultimately unable to breakdown a stubborn Blades backline.
And it was Sharp’s flying header midway through the opening half that proved the difference between the two side on what was ultimately a frustrating afternoon for Norwich and their 2,200 travelling supporters.
Following the midweek FA Cup success at Spurs, Daniel Farke reverted back to his last starting team that had previously featured in the Premier League against Leicester.
Kenny McLean, Alex Tettey, Ondrej Duda and Teemu Pukki were all back in from the off.
In what was a lively atmosphere in the early throes, Norwich looked settled and assured in possession.
The first clear chance of the contest arrived on 14 minutes. Pukki saw an initial header from Duda’s corner kick only half-cleared, before the Finn then smacked the loose ball against the outside of the post from the corner of the six-yard box.
Norwich were on top and dictating much of the play, with a series of clever combinations between Emi Buendia and Duda only lacking a final incisive pass.
The hosts did have their moments, but it took until the half-hour mark for their opportunity of note.
It came following a series of corner kicks targeted towards the back post. Oliver Norwood’s deliver bounced around the Norwich penalty area, with Jack O’Connell eventually firing goalwards only for McLean to acrobatically clear off the line.
But it was only a temporary respite, as Blades skipper Sharp headed home the opener on 36 minutes.
John Lundstram assumed space on the right touchline, before swirling a ball into the area with Sharp free to power home a header from point blank range.
Immediately sensing a second goal, Norwich had to weather a storm for the remaining minutes of the half, with Tim Krul repelling a Lundstram volley.
Farke introduced Josip Drmic at the half time interval, as the Canaries sought a route back into the game.
And the Switzerland international almost had an immediate impact, rising above a Blades defender before glancing Max Aarons’ centre marginally wide.
Norwich suddenly had more of a presence in the final third, but in committing numbers forward the hosts were also presented with opportunities.
Chris Basham shot over from an acute angle after chipping the ball over the head of McLean.
Mario Vrancic entered the action just after the hour mark, as City went all out for the equaliser.
With ten minutes to play City were somehow unable to scramble the ball home following a corner kick. Vrancic saw a header kept out by Dean Henderson, before Drmic’s follow up was diverted onto the bar by McGoldrick from a matter of inches out.
Henderson kept hold of the clean sheet again when Lewis volleyed towards goal in the 85th minute as City hunted desperately for an equalising goal.
That goal didn't come, with the Blades claiming all three points.
Sheffield United: Henderson, Baldock, Stevens (Osborn 60), Fleck, O’Connell, Basham, Lundstram, McBurnie (Berge 90'), Sharp (C) (McGoldrick 71), Egan, Norwood
Unused substitutes: Verrips, Jagielka, Mousset, Retsos
Norwich City: Krul, Aarons, Godfrey, Hanley (C), Lewis, Cantwell (Drmic 46), Buendia, Pukki, McLean, Duda (Idah 86'), Tettey (Vrancic 66)
Unused substitutes: McGovern, Zimmermann, Rupp, Stiepermann