James Shield’s Player Ratings: How Sheffield United performed against Rotherham United

Sheffield United faced Rotherham United at New York Stadium today
Sheffield United faced Rotherham United at New York Stadium today

Slack defending cost Sheffield United dear at New York Stadium this afternoon, although Rotherham will feel a share of the spoils was the very least their performance warranted.

Chris Wilder's side appeared to be heading back to the top of the Championship when Chris Basham turned home during the closing stages. But after clawing themselves back from a goal down when Jon Taylor's deflected strike wrong-footed the excellent Dean Henderson, Paul Warne's men equalised again in added time when some poor decision making, compounded by United's failure to clear, allowed the substitute to level.

Dean Henderson 9:
Denied Richie Towell in the first minute as Paul Warne's side came bursting out of the blocks and then made two fine saves to deny Rotherham following Duffy's opener. The first, from Semi Ajayi, saw him tip a goal-bound header over the crossbar. The second, which came only a minute later, was less spectacular but no less important as Jon Taylor's low shot was palmed around the far post. Moments after denying Clark Robertson, was powerless to keep out the equaliser.

Chris Basham 7:
The amount of ground Basham covers is phenomenal. The amount of time he spends on the edge of the opposition's box is, for a centre-half, simply ridiculous. Playing in this fashion should not work but, because the visitors all know their job, it does. Never gives anything less than one hundred per cent and his persistence paid off during the closing stages.

John Egan 7:
With his two fellow centre-halves usually picking-up Smith at set-pieces, Egan was able to act as United's organiser-in-chief at deal ball situations. Having recovered from the the calf injury which had threatened his involvement here, Egan made an important interception to prevent Ajayi potentially prodding him from around seven yards out just before Henderson's two quick-fire saves.

Jack O'Connell 6:
Speaking earlier in the week, the defender admitted he was expecting a no-holds-barred battle with centre-forward Smith and that is exactly what he got. The two spent long periods of the match wrestling each other for position under every high ball but O'Connell showed good awareness to peel away from Smith and make a block to deny Richie Towell midway through the first half.

Enda Stevens 6:
Despite being proud to play for his country, the Republic of Ireland international cut a frustrated figure during their recent game against Denmark. But Stevens, who appeared to have been told not to cross the half-way line in Aarhus, was back to his rampaging best here and charged forward whenever the opportunity allowed.

Kieron Freeman 5:
Five days after making his international debut for Wales, Rotherham, and Towell in particular, ensured the former Derby County defender did not enjoy an easy return to the bread and butter of Championship football. Was left exposed by his team mates when Taylor headed over early on before Duffy's opener.

Oliver Norwood 5:
The Northern Ireland midfielder is usually all about creativity. But he proved he is willing to defend too, making a series of well-executed but important tackles to thwart Rotherham's counter-attacks. United would have preferred Norwood to have spent more time carving out opportunities rather than thwarting them. But it showed he can perform more than one job.

John Fleck 5:
Kept things simple in central midfield, making tackles and then either spreading the ball wide or searching for Norwood. Like his team mate, Fleck showed a willingness to perform his defensive duties when Rotherham applied pressure. But this was a rare afternoon when he was sloppy in possession and made little impact.

Mark Duffy 6:
If there is a criticism of the midfielder, it is that he should score more. The manner in which he created his third of the season and first since September will only increase the frustration surrounding the 33-year-old's returns in front of goal. Used his poise, balance and footwork to dance through the Rotherham defence before sliding thye ball home.

Billy Sharp 6:
United's captain ran and ran and ran. But this was one of those afternoons when, try as he might, it quickly became obvious that clear cut openings would be in short supply. Suffered from lack of top quality service but kept on going throughout and claimed the assist for Basham's goal.

David McGoldrick 5:
Sharp's striker-partner was the player Warne, at least in private, had been concerned about the most before kick-off. McGoldrick did not enjoy his most productive afternoon, despite producing some typically classy touches, and always made himself available to receive the ball. Should have scored just before half-time when his close-range effort hit a defender though. Leon Clarke made more of an impression.


Substitutes: Leon Clarke (McGoldrick, 63), Richard Stearman (Duffy, 86), Marvin Johnson (Sharp, 89)
Not used: Simon Moore, Paul Coutts, Conor Washington, George Baldock.