The race for European qualification continued on a wet, blustery day in Lancashire. Burnley were in good form having suffered only one defeat in their last 10 games, sitting tenth with 45 points, only two points behind Sheffield United in eighth. Comparatively, the Blades had been in poor form since the restart, their last result a 3-1 home win over Tottenham Hotspur being their first win in 4 league matches.
The conditions made play difficult, but the Blades had an early spell on dominance, putting the home side under pressure. In only the first minute, Oli McBurnie got on the end of David McGoldrick’s flick to fire towards goal from 12 yards, but it was saved well by Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope, himself chasing the Premier League Golden Glove this season.
The Blades had Burnley camped in their half for much of the opening but Burnley kept looking to go forward on the counter against the run of play. A loose pass in the middle allowed Burnley to break with pace. Erik Pieters played in Matej Vydra but the Burnley striker passed up the golden chance from about 15 yards out. A huge let-off for Chris Wilder’s men.
The half continued to see sustained pressure by Sheffield United, who controlled possession and knocked the ball around well, pinning Burnley back. Ben Osborn curled in a wonderful cross for John Egan to attack but Pope came out for it, enough to put Egan off.
After a drink break, Burnley gradually built themselves into the game, being more proactive and getting forward. Both Sander Berge and Egan putting headed chances over for the Blades, but Burnley’s more positive approach was beginning to pay off. A fine Burnley move saw the ball worked from right to left and back to the right again, where Phil Bardsley unleashed a thunderbolt strike from range which had to be beaten away by Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson.
Burnley’s good play would see a reward when a free-kick was lumped into the box from a long way out on the left, the ball was flicked on by a Jay Rodriguez header and James Tarkowski managed to get in front of McBurnie at the far post, fling himself forward and stab home from a few yards out. A VAR check confirmed Tarkowski was just onside for the flick on and McBurnie’s defensive lapse proved costly.
The Blades hadn’t scored an away goal since the restart but put Burnley under an early spell of pressure, forcing them to camp deep in their own half as in most of first half. Wilder then made two early second half changes, with Billy Sharp and Jack O’Connell coming on, both important attacking changes.
The Blades had a long period of sustained pressure, but Burnley occasionally broke away at pace, threatening to hit on the counter. United used the width well through George Baldock, O’Connell and Enda Stevens as the Blades continued to threaten and deliver crosses for which to attack.
A Rodriguez shot was parried by Henderson straight into the path of Dwight McNeil in the box but he scuffed the shot wide despite having time to take a touch and set himself. It was a massive chance to put the game to bed for Burnley and would haunt them just three minutes later when Ben Osborn dinked a dangerous ball in, Sharp superbly flicked it on with his head and found Egan who rifled home the equaliser on the volley. The goal meant that Egan has now scored in each of England’s top 4 football leagues, the first one coming in March 2014 when he played for Southend in League Two. It was a deserved equaliser for the away side who had been knocking on the door for most of the game.
It would finish 1-1 which overall was a fair result considering the chances both sides missed, despite Sheffield United probably feeling they could have done more with their dominance while Burnley will be left to rue missed golden chances. The Clarets move into ninth on 46 points. Meanwhile, the Blades kept their own European dreams alive, staying eighth now with 48 points
Sheffield United: Henderson, Basham (Rodwell 75’), Egan, Robinson (O’Connell 55’), Baldock, Berge, Norwood (Sharp 54’), Osborn, Stevens, McBurnie (Mousset 71’), McGoldrick
Burnley: Pope, Bardsley, Long, Tarkowski, Taylor, McNeil, Westwood, Brownhill, Pieters (Gudmundsson 90’), Rodriguez, Vydra (Wood 69’)
Referee: Peter Bankes
Sheffield United: Egan (80)
Burnley: Tarkowski (43)
Man of the Match: John Egan