As many of you will know, Bristol City lost 3-2 at home to Sheffield United this past Saturday. As usual, I was in attendance in the East End, so one would have thought that I got to witness the home side come back from two goals down to equalise in stoppage time, only to let in a morale-crushing third which sent the United fans back to the home of Stainless Steel with three points.
Darius Henderson – His hattrick gave Sheffield United the three points in a dramatic finale
You would’ve thought that. You would be wrong. And it was, quite frankly, my own fault. Darius Henderson had already put Sheffield United 2-0 up in the first half, with the first goal coming in very controversial fashion. Initially, the referee disallowed the goal, presumably for a foul on City keeper Dean Gerken who failed to get a good connection on his punch thanks to another United attacker. However, to be fair, the contact was rather minimal and I myself am a big opponent of the ‘blow the whistle as soon as a goalkeeper falls down under any sort of challenge’ philosophy too-often taken by English referees these days. Evidently the lineman agreed with the referee awarding the goal to the away side following consultation with his co-official.
Things got worse for City when they conceded a second soon afterwards. This time there was little to complain about as Henderson finished off a rather nice move, slamming a Jamie Ward pass into the top corner.
I must mention Mr Ward again, as the United number 18 got himself involved in a rather entertaining moment a few minutes later. He was prepared to take a corner at the East End of the stadium, in front of perhaps the most passionate set of fans in Ashton Gate (I’m not including myself in that category as I have only really been a fan for a fraction of the time some of the guys and gals in the stand have!). He, like most players (including City players, to be honest) put the ball as close to the edge of the corner segment as humanly possible, probably just outside of it. The referee spotted this and told him to move it back in. Ward duly obliged but then pushed it back outside again when the ref looked away. The official was having none of it and booked Ward for disobeying him. Cue angry protestations from the Sheffield United players and rather unsavoury chants from the home fans. Still, was rather funny and good to see cheating (although the benefit is rather negligible) punished properly.
The home side went into the tunnel at halftime to a chorus of boos from the home fans – a relatively rare occurrence considering the lyrics of the popular ‘Johnson says… get behind the team song’, itself an adaptation of the ‘bounce around the ground song’ penned to the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine… penned probably on the back of a Blackthorn coaster in some local pub.
I must give Gary Johnson his due. Following dreadful home performances in the first 45 minutes of games, he is quite good at rallying the troops to a better second half performance. The same applied here. City came out of the blocks flying in the second half, with Robins captain Louis Carey getting one back with a header in the 53rd minute.
Louis Carey – Gave City some hope
However, the game rather fizzled out after that. With 5 minutes of stoppage time announced, I sat through the first couple of minutes or so, and then, when all hope seemed lost, left along with a number of fellow fans. However, when in the stadium car park I heard a cheer, and the announcement that Alvaro Saborio had scored for City. Typical, sod’s law in action (or, according to me, God showed his sense of humour) followed by another, smaller cheer a minute later, signalling United’s winner. This came 6 minutes into stoppage tiome with just 5 minutes announced. But, no spilt milk. Sheffield United deserved it. We were lucky to get back to 2-2, really, in another substandard home performance. A previous psot of mine suggested that City could get into the promotion playoffs. With performances like this, we won’t be going anywhere.