Chris Wilder disappointed as Blades’ search for a Premier League victory goes on

Ten-man Sheffield United were pegged back by Danny Welbeck’s equaliser at Brighton.

By Press Association Published: 20 December 2020 - 3.52pm
Football Premier League

Brighton & Hove Albion

Chris Wilder was frustrated by Sheffield United’s inability to hang on for victory at Brighton but believes the 1-1 draw offers a “small step” in the right direction for his struggling side.

Wilder’s rock-bottom Blades bounced back from the 40th-minute dismissal of John Lundstram to lead courtesy of a deflected second-half strike from Premier League debutant Jayden Bogle.

But United were forced to settle for only a second point of a miserable campaign after Albion substitute Danny Welbeck volleyed home an equaliser three minutes from time.

The South Yorkshire club, who halted an eight-game losing streak at the Amex Stadium, sit eight points from safety at the end of their 14th top-flight fixture.

“When you get that close, it’s disappointing not to see the game out,” said Blades boss Wilder.

“Obviously down to 10 men for 50 minutes, it’s going to be a long afternoon.

“But the team showed some real qualities in terms of ambition to try and get that first goal – which we did – and determination and desire to keep the ball out of the back of the net, which they had until late on.

Brighton and Hove Albion v Sheffield United – Premier League – AMEX Stadium
Danny Welbeck wheels away in celebration (John Sibley/PA)

“A small step for us after Thursday night’s performance (a 3-2 loss to Manchester United), which I was content with. And today we were competitive.”

Midfielder Lundstram, making his 100th United appearance, was sent off after overrunning the ball and lunging at Seagulls defender Joel Veltman.

Referee Peter Bankes initially produced a yellow card, before upgrading the punishment to red having watched a replay of the incident on a pitchside monitor.

Wilder, who had not seen a replay of the tackle, fears the game is in danger of becoming a non-contact sport but said he would not be appealing against the decision.

“It must have been borderline because he had to go over to the monitor,” said Wilder.

“I have got to be careful what I say. I played and managed in the early part of my career in a world where it’s a contact sport. I still think everybody wants to see it as a contact sport, so it was a tight decision.

“People talk about excessive force and I don’t know how you determine excessive force and you determine if you need to slow down when you’re tackling somebody at a full-tilt football match in the Premier League.

“But this is the way it’s going. Be careful it doesn’t become a non-contact sport, by the way, because I still believe supporters in this country want to see contact.

“I don’t think there was any malice in the challenge at all. When people talk about speed and excessiveness, it’s sometimes quite difficult for me – as a football dinosaur – to accept.”

Lundstram was recalled to United’s starting XI after Sander Berge suffered a toe injury in the defeat to Manchester United.

Wilder revealed Norway midfielder Berge faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

“Sander’s out for three months. It was a really unfortunate injury, a bit of a freak injury,” said Wilder.

“He’s gone to block a ball and caught it right on the end of his toe and that’s ripped away the tendon from the bone, so he’ll require surgery.”

After Welbeck cancelled out Bogle’s breakaway goal, fellow Seagulls substitute Alireza Jahanbakhsh had a golden chance to snatch an overdue home victory but headed against the crossbar deep into added time.

Brighton, who are two points above the relegation zone, have now won just one of 16 top-flight fixtures on home soil in 2020.

Albion boss Graham Potter was left with mixed emotions, saying: “I thought we were the better team (in the first half), the red card then changes the complexion of the game.

“It becomes a bit more defence versus attack. The onus is on us and we got caught with the sucker punch in terms of the breakaway.

“We had chances in the second half but the longer it goes, the more you’re thinking it could be a really disappointing afternoon for us.

“In the end, I’m pleased that the players got a reward for their constant pressure but, at the same time, we are disappointed with only one point.”

BT Sport Monthly Pass

Join the home of live sport for just £25 per month. Get instant access to the BT Sport app, with no contract and no BT broadband required.