Che Adams’ salvaged a point for Sheffield United at Fleetwood Town this afternoon when he converted a 90th minute penalty.
The centre-forward equalised after Ryan Flynn had been brought down by David Ball and, in the process, prevented Nigel Adkins’ team from suffering their third straight defeat in League One.
The visitors appeared well-placed to endure an even more profitable afternoon when Matt Done was credited with the goal which handed them the lead before Ashley Hunter and Marcus Nilsson turned the contest on its head.
Nick Haughton was sent-off during the closing stages and, following several near misses, United’s pressure eventually told but, in truth, the final scoreline does little to enhance their hopes of reaching the end of season play-offs.
There was precious little between the two teams during the opening skirmishes but, possessing a slightly sharper cutting edge, it was little surprise to see United take a 30th minute lead. Nor, given their defensive frailties so far this term, that it lasted barely 60 seconds.
Done’s cross snaked past Chris Maxwell, possibly via Adams or a defender, following a fine passage of play. But Fleetwood hit back immediately when Hunter headed beyond George Long before Nilsson handed them the lead on the hour mark. It was the Swede’s first goal in English football and seemed set to be the decisive one too until referee Carl Boyeson punished Ball’s foul.
Dean Hammond, returning to United’s midfield following suspension, was inches away from equalising with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining after meeting a clever free-kick over the wall. Fleetwood were reduced to 10 men in the 88th minute when substitute Haughton was dismissed before Adams kept his cool from 12 yards out.
With Sharp taken ill before kick-off, Adams was the senior partner in a youthful United attack. He enjoyed two sights of goal within the space of seven minutes but neither were on target. The first, a stooping header after John Brayford had whipped a tantalising cross into Maxwell’s penalty area, was an especially difficult chance. The second, after he found space on the edge of the box, was slightly easier but still not clear cut.
Fleetwood, like Adkins’ men, were busy and midway through the opening period, created theiir first opening of the contest when Hunter beat the off-side trap. Ignoring the crowd’s pleas to pass the ball to a team mate, he instead ghosted inside before unleashing a superb shot which curled just wide of Long’s far post.
United, however, had been the more penetrating of the two teams and took a deserved lead following a well constructed move instigated by Florent Cuvelier before being embellished by Brayford, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Matt Done. His cross, towards Adams, ended up in the back of Maxwell’s net. Quite how it got there, nobody seemed to know but the lead lasted less than two minutes with Hunter heading home Victor Nirennold’s centre.
United, with Graham Kelly joining fellow academy graduate Ben Whiteman on the substitutes bench, survived a 50th minute scare when Wes Burns met David Ball’s cross at the far post but tapped his close-range shot onto the woodwork.
The response came in the shape of a Ryan Flynn drive and Adams attempt which was comfortably saved by Maxwell. The latter’s miss - he had plenty of time to pick his spot either side of the goalkeeper - proved especially costly when Nilsson glanced home Fleetwood’s second header of the afternoon.
Alex Baptiste, making his full debut for United after signing on emergency loan from Middlesbrough last week, did well to meet a 62nd minute corner from Done but could not keep his header beneath the crossbar.
Hammond went close as United looked to restore parity before seeing a flicked backwards header saved following a skirmish in front of Maxwell. Substitute Paul Coutts tried his luck from long distance soon after and Chris Basham also saw shot scrambled to safety but United’s pressure eventually paid-off.
Fleetwood Town: Maxwell, Jonsson, Bell, Ryan, Ameobi, Burns, Nirennold, Hunter (Matt 76), Ball, Nilsson, Davis (Sowerby 46, Haughton 70)). Not used: Matt, Grant,Williams, Gogic, Cole.
Sheffield United: Long, Brayford, Basham, Flynn, Done, Baptiste, Calvert-Lewin (Sammon 74), Adams, Cuvelier (Coutts 46), Edgar, Hammond. Not used: Howard, Campbell-Ryce, McGahey, Whiteman, Kelly.
Referee: Carl Boyeson (East Yorkshire),