Blades Of Glory

WE sent our reporter Charlie Hempstead to spy on our potential FA Cup second round opponents on Tuesday. Here is what he made of Sheffield United v Crewe...

Argyle will visit Bramall Lane on Saturday, December 6 in the FA Cup second round after Sheffield United recorded a routine 2-0 victory over Crewe Alexandra in their first round replay.

Although the home side dominated the match throughout, they were indebted to a blinding double save from keeper Mark Howard before Ryan Flynn gave them the lead in the 19th minute, tapping in from two yards after the Crewe defence failed to clear their lines following a short-corner routine.

It was Flynn who put the result beyond doubt in the 77th minute, finishing clinically from just inside the penalty area after being released by Jamie Murphy’s supreme pass.

Both sides lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation, but United’s was to say the least very fluid. Apart from Flynn, who resolutely hugged the touchline, the other forward-looking players in the line-up were not so easily pigeonholed. Jamal Campbell-Ryce in particular appeared to have bought an all-zones travel pass, turning up here, there and everywhere. Murphy also showed himself to be equally at home on the left flank as down the middle, while Stefan Scougall and Louis Reed were very lively in advanced midfield roles.

The player who really made the hosts tick, though, was skipper Michael Doyle. Playing just in front of his back four, he misplaced two passes in the entire match, and constantly kept his team moving forward. That said, Crewe gave him far too much space, a luxury which one imagines will not be afforded him in 17 days’ time by (the watching) John Sheridan.

Despite the home side’s superiority, the game remained in the balance for rather longer than it should have. In fact, had it not been for the oblique nature of physics when a sphere comes into contact with a cylinder, Crewe would have gone in at half time on level terms. Nine times out of ten, Bradden Inman’s angled shot would have bounced into the net off the inside of the far post, but this was the once out of ten that the ball somehow rebounded to safety.

The second half really was one-way traffic, but a combination of profligate finishing and some fine saves from Ben Garratt in the visitors’ goal kept the scoreline within respectable limits.

Such was the unevenness of the encounter that left-back Bob Harris played virtually as a winger throughout the second half, and even centre-back Chris Basham felt emboldened to join the attack on several occasions. The first time he did so, he put the ball in the net from two yards, only to be ruled offside.

However his other goal attempts, of which there were a number, probably did little to convince his manager to give him a start up front when the Green Army comes visiting.

And visit we shall, on December 6. We will have ticket details for you as soon as we have them.