Billy Sharp was about to be removed from the field when he struck the winner for the second time in as many home matches to keep Sheffield United’s greatest of great escapes alive.
With Rhian Brewster stripped and ready for action, the talismanic Sharp, whose 100th league goal for his beloved Blades downed Newcastle here last month, swivelled on a loose ball and prodded in to complete a dramatic turnaround in an enthralling relegation battle.
‘Billy had done great and we just needed to freshen it up. Billy would have understood that but I’m delighted he scored his goal and changed the dynamic of the game,’ said United manager Chris Wilder.
Sheffield United fought back to claim a priceless Premier League victory on Tuesday night
Sheffield United (3-5-2): Ramsdale 8; Basham 8*, Egan 7.5, Ampadu 7.5; Baldock 6.5 (Lowe 44 mins, 7), Fleck 7.5, Norwood 6.5 (McBurnie 46, 7), Lundstram 7, Bogle 8; McGoldrick 7, Sharp 7 (Burke 86)
Substitutes: Foderingham, Jagielka, Brewster, Bryan, Brunt, Ndiaye
Manager: Chris Wilder 8
Bookings: Fleck, McBurnie
Goals: Bogle 56, Sharp 73
West Brom (4-4-2): Johnstone 7; O’Shea 6.5, Ajayi 6.5, Bartley 6, Townsend 7; Phillips 8 (Gallagher 74), Livermore 6, Snodgrass 7.5, Pereira 6; Robinson 7 (Robson-Kanu 68, 5.5), Diagne 5 (Grant 68, 5.5)
Substitutes: Button, Furlong, Gibbs, Sawyers, Ivanovic, Peltier
Manager: Sam Allardyce 7
Goals: Phillips 41
Referee: Paul Tierney 8
‘Split seconds,’ are what decide games at this level, according to West Brom manager Sam Allardyce and Sharp, 35 on Friday, gave himself an early birthday present with his impeccable sense of timing.
It continued a resurgent start to 2021 for the Yorkshire club. Winless in any competition this season until the second week of January, this was their fifth in seven matches since and possessed the same level of character as was on display in the 2-1 success at Manchester United a week ago.
This victory takes them to 11 points, the total some feared they would not reach in predicting them a worse top-flight outfit than the Derby team of 2007-08.
However, in the second half at least, this was much more like the vibrant United that thrilled the Premier League neutrals last season. They are now a point behind West Brom and 10 from safety, so could something spectacular really be on?
‘There’s still a long way to go, we’re not getting carried away at all, there’s still a huge challenge in front of us,’ Wilder said.
‘But we’re alive. We’re fighting and giving it a go. That’s all we can do.’
Evenings like these, when losing is not an option, require bravery and Wilder’s decision to prey on West Brom’s defensive vulnerability, ditching the metronomic passing of Ollie Norwood and thrusting an extra forward into the fray in the shape of Oli McBurnie at the start of the second half, paid dividends.
West Brom headed into the interval ahead courtesy of Matt Phillips’ breakaway 41st-minute goal.
Robert Snodgrass, operating in an unfamiliar central midfield role, carved the ball into the path of Callum Robinson, whose shot cutting in from the left was parried by Aaron Ramsdale.
A second save from the rebound denied West Brom’s full debutant Mbaye Diagne, only for Phillips to emerge ahead of Ethan Ampadu in a muddy six-yard box to poke over the line.
Billy Sharp’s prodded finish in the second-half saw the Blades collect their third league win
Jayden Bogle grabbed a deserved equaliser for Sheffield United in the 56th minute
The hosts had dominated the opening period, enjoying 70 per cent possession, but lacked the energy required by their manager.
‘I thought we needed to be more positive, more ambitious. To play front-foot football and win the game,’ Wilder reflected.
Within 11 minutes of the second period they were level at a sodden Bramall Lane when Chris Basham took a throw on the right and then re-emerged in the area to weave goalwards.
Bogle lashed a left-footed effort into the corner after being teed up by Chris Basham
Matt Phillips opened the scoring from close range against run of play just before half-time
Although he could not get the ball out of his feet for a shot, he showed enough of it to team-mate Jayden Bogle who did not hesitate in thrashing inside Sam Johnstone’s left-hand upright.
Then came what Allardyce termed the defining moment of the match: Robinson ghosted onto Phillips’ delicious delivery from the right but was foiled by a strong right-handed block from Ramsdale.
‘From 2-1, we might not have won the game but we wouldn’t have lost and it gave Sheffield United their opportunity,’ Allardyce said.
The forward, who spent a month on loan at at Bramall Lane in 2011, put the visitors ahead
Phillips tapped in the opener after Ramsdale had parried efforts from Robinson and Diagne
They took it when Basham worked space with John Fleck on the right and swung into the area. The ball nicked off two West Brom defenders and Sharp produced the kind of predatory finish for which he has become renowned.
The 26th goal conceded by Albion in eight Premier League outings under Allardyce sent the home bench wild and forced Brewster to put his tracksuit back on.
United had more than enough spirit to hold out and Allardyce hopes his new signings Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Okay Yokuslu can instil some of the same in his team.
Hosts dominated possession in the first-half but they could not find a way past Sam Johnstone
Sheffield United defender George Baldock was forced off with an injury in the first-half
The former may feature this coming weekend although Turkish international Okay awaits a visa.
Having failed to hold on against Fulham at the weekend this was another damaging result for a man whose reputation as a relegation Houdini appears under severe threat.
But an escape to trump all others remains on for Wilder. Just.