Danny Welbeck grabs a point for Brighton as Sheffield United rue chances

Chris Wilder’s side come agonisingly close to first win of the season

Brighton and Hove Albion’s Danny Welbeck scores his side’s equaliser during the Premier League draw with Sheffield United at the AMEX Stadium, Brighton. Photo: Mike Hewitt/PA Wire

Brighton and Hove Albion’s Danny Welbeck scores his side’s equaliser during the Premier League draw with Sheffield United at the AMEX Stadium, Brighton. Photo: Mike Hewitt/PA Wire

 

Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Sheffield United 1

Sheffield United simply cannot catch a break. They were agonisingly close to a first win of the season and, given they had played more than half the game with 10 men after John Lundstram’s red card, it could have felt transformative. When the substitute Jayden Bogle, a summer signing from Derby, scored within nine minutes of coming on for his top-flight debut it was tempting to wonder whether the Blades’ cutting edge had been hiding in plain sight. Then Danny Welbeck, another replacement, chested down and smashed in after Adam Webster had contested a deep free-kick; it earned Brighton a point for all their huff and puff, and United were left to regret a glaring miss from Oliver Burke, who blazed over when given a golden chance to make things safe before the equaliser.

Chris Wilder might feel, when the fine margins are going against you every week, that it never rains but it pours. Lundstram’s dismissal came seven minutes after the manager had made a change that, on early evidence, appeared to liven United up. They had offered nothing in the opening half-hour, restricting Brighton to half-chances but looking dismal in attack, and the introduction of the forward Burke for John Fleck looked a tactical one. Immediately Burke was hacked down by Webster and David McGoldrick was denied from the free-kick by an outstanding fingertip save from Robert Sánchez.

Then Lundstram steamed into Joël Veltman in midfield with a challenge whose force could be heard high in the stand and, while the foul drew outrage from Brighton’s players, he appeared to have got away with a booking. That was until VAR intervened, with another of those waits that tend to confirm the outcome; Peter Bankes was summoned to his pitchside monitor by the video official, Michael Oliver, and was quickly persuaded to upgrade the punishment. He was correct to do so: Lundstram had got to the ball first but with excessive force, following through over it and leaving Veltman in a degree of trouble that would cause his replacement at the break. Lundstram had returned to the side in place of the injured Sander Berge, but he had now sent Wilder’s best attacking intentions up in smoke.

The onus was now on Brighton to break their opponents down, although in that sense little had really changed. Graham Potter’s players were sprightly and neat from the off, but also insubstantial where it counted. Lewis Dunk looped an early header over and, not long before Lundstram’s infraction, would see a close-range effort heroically blocked by Ethan Ampadu. There were bright moments in attack from Neal Maupay and Aaron Connolly; the latter forced a low save from Aaron Ramsdale and then, after fine work from Leandro Trossard, Maupay saw a relieved Chris Basham divert his shot into the keeper’s arms.

Clear opportunities were scarce, though, until a chance for Trossard three minutes into the second half. He had been played in on the left by Veltman’s replacement, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, but dragged well wide when decently placed.

Given that the wins simply have to start coming for Wilder his next move, bringing on the right wing-back Bogle in place of the luckless Rhian Brewster, seemed an admission that a point would have to do. It turns out the professionals know better. Almost immediately United almost scored when Burke, having been beautifully released by McGoldrick, teed up Enda Stevens to hammer just wide. Then they went one better. It was McGoldrick who again unlocked Brighton with a run down the left and a smart cutback for Bogle, who had run far infield from his starting position, to take a neat first touch and beat Sánchez via a hefty deflection off Webster.

The frustration among Brighton’s latest tranche of returning fans was palpable, particularly when their players repeatedly elected to spurn shooting opportunities around the box. They exhorted Webster to change that and he did, forcing a tip-over from Ramsdale. But ideas appeared to have run out before Welbeck bailed them out, and Burke should have punished them from a quick United break. The miss would have been even more costly if Jahanbakhsh had not nodded against the woodwork in added time, leaving both sides to depart with regrets. – Guardian

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