Sheffield United: Chris Wilder admits Stoke City ‘dodged a bullet’ as Gary Rowett showers praise on The Blades

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder

Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, insisted Stoke City had "dodged a bullet" after snatching a draw at Bramall Lane tonight.

Second-placed United appeared destined to regain first place in the Championship table when Leon Clarke scored his first goal of the season midway through the second-half.

But Joe Allen denied them all three points when his free-kick sneaked between Dean Henderson's outstretched palm and the near post with only two minutes remaining.

Gary Rowett, Wilder's opposite number, paid tribute to United's "creativity" and "unusual approach", describing them as one of the teams to beat in the division this term.

Although Rowett's words were of little consolation to the 51-year-old, he admitted the fact they were disappointed to only draw with City revealed the progress United have made since being promoted 18 months ago.

"The fact that I'm sitting here, talking about a performance like the one we produced against a side full of players who were in the Premier League last season, that's got to be put into perspective." Wilder said. "Yes, I'm disappointed because I thought we deserved more. But, at the same time, I've got to consider the bigger picture and I've told the lads that.

"To be where we are, to be producing football like that against very good opponents who cost what they did, that makes me proud of what the boys are doing and I think other people should be proud too.

"If they're honest, and I know they've got a very good and very honest manager, Stoke City will tell you they've dodged a bullet out there."

United appeared destined to secure the victory their performance warranted when Clarke, their leading goalscorer last term, prodded home when Oliver Norwood's set-piece struck the woodwork. But, after failing to press home their advantage, City were able to salvage a share of the spoils during the closing stages.

"The fact that we don't feel a point from two games against some of the most powerful clubs in the competition is, even though I might be contradicting myself, a sign of progress," Wilder, whose side were beaten by Derby County at the weekend, added.

Rowett provided an insight into the respect United now command from opponents when he acknowledged City had changed their tactics to cope with the threat Wilder's men pose.

"Chrissy has done a brilliant job and they (United) are difficult to cope with," he said. "How many teams do you see scoring goals when a centre-half passes to another centre-half who then tucks the ball away? Not many.

"They cause you problems because they're front foot, they are unusual in how they go about things, and are difficult to press. You usually only get a couple of days to prepare for that.

"No matter how good we think we might be, they're also a very good side and they'll be there or there abouts at the end, I've got no doubts about that."