Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder says football is in danger of becoming “a non-contact sport” after midfielder John Lundstram was dismissed in Sunday’s Premier League draw at Brighton.
Lundstram was initially cautioned for his studs-up tackle on Joel Veltman late in the first half, but referee Peter Bankes upgraded the yellow card to a straight red after consulting his pitchside monitor.
“The game has moved on and changed,” Wilder told BBC Match of the Day. “I have to change with it, I suppose. Players and fans still want to see contact. I’ve got to accept that the referee thought it was a red.”
The hosts had Wilder’s side pinned back inside their own half for the majority of the contest but needed Danny Welbeck’s late strike to deny the 10-man Blades a first league win of the season.
Jayden Bogle had given the visitors the lead against the run of play after Aaron Connolly, Neal Maupay and Leandro Trossard had spurned promising first-half opportunities for Brighton.
Welbeck had a header cleared off the line deep into second-half stoppage, before Alireza Jahanbakhsh headed against the crossbar as United held on for a precious point.
“It took an enormous amount of energy and organisation with 10 men against a side that moves the ball around like Brighton,” added Wilder. “It was a pleasure to watch my side at the end of the game.
“At times it is a simplistic game – obviously you want to score goals and we’ve struggled with that, but it’s about keeping the ball out of your net and we showed we wanted to do that.”
Brighton, meanwhile, remain without a league win at Amex Stadium this season and sit just two points above the relegation zone.
Blades hold on for morale-boosting point
Despite seeing United slip to a ninth consecutive league defeat as they lost 3-2 at home to Manchester United on Thursday, Wilder said he was pleased with the manner of their performance.
However, if he was hoping for his players to pick up where they left off in the final 10 minutes against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, it was not to be as Brighton dominated the opening exchanges.
David Sanchez’s one-handed save from David McGoldrick’s free-kick was the closest the visitors came to a breakthrough prior to Lundstram’s reckless and needless challenge on Veltman.
United were camped inside their own half for much of the second period but deserve tremendous credit for their response to Lundstram’s dismissal.
The visitors defended stoutly while causing Brighton numerous problems on the counter-attack, with Enda Stevens firing narrowly wide of Sanchez’s goal 12 minutes into the second half.
Bogle’s opener came from a carbon-copy attack down the left, as McGoldrick picked out the former Derby County man, who fired home via a deflection off Adam Webster.
Oliver Burke could have doubled United’s lead late on but blazed over from close range after latching on to Ben Osborn’s square pass.
The Blades remain rooted to the foot of the table and six points adrift of safety, but Wilder can take plenty of positives from his team’s gutsy display.
Frustration for dominant Brighton
Brighton have now won only one of their past 12 Premier League matches, with their most recent home league triumph coming against Arsenal on 20 July.
Having failed to beat fellow strugglers Fulham at Craven Cottage in midweek, this was an opportunity for Graham Potter’s side to give themselves breathing space above the bottom three before a difficult run of fixtures over the festive period.
In front of 2,000 spectators at Amex Stadium, Brighton dominated possession from the outset and went close to taking an early lead when Lewis Dunk rose highest to head Trossard’s corner on to the roof of the net.
Connolly also tested Blades goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale with a low shot, before Chris Basham and Ethan Ampadu thwarted Maupay twice in quick succession.
There was little change to the pattern of play after the restart as Trossard scuffed a low shot wide of the far post and George Baldock produced a fine block to deny Solly March.
Connolly should have cancelled out Bogle’s opener when he headed Jahanbakhsh’s delivery over the bar from point-blank range, but Welbeck lashed home a deserved equaliser after controlling Basham’s attempted clearance with his chest.
Welbeck and Jahanbakhsh both spurned glorious opportunities to earn Potter’s charges a crucial victory in added time, but the Seagulls had to settle for a draw.
After travelling to in-form West Ham next Sunday, Brighton face back-to-back home games against Arsenal and Wolverhampton Wanderers before hosting Manchester City.
No home comforts for Seagulls – the stats
- Brighton are winless in their past 11 Premier League home games (D5 L6). Only once in their league history have they gone longer without a win at home (12 games between October 1997 and February 1998).
- Sheffield United have never won a Premier League game in which they have been shown a red card (D5 L7).
- United have won just two points from 14 Premier League games this season – the lowest total by an English top-flight side at this stage of a campaign (assuming three points for a win).
- Bogle became the fifth player to score on his Premier League debut for Sheffield United, after Brian Deane (1992), Willie Falconer (1993), Rob Hulse (2006) and Billy Sharp (2019).
- Welbeck has scored his eighth Premier League goal as a substitute and first since scoring for Arsenal against West Ham in August 2018.
- Lundstram was sent off in a league game for the first time since March 2016 for Oxford against Stevenage in League Two.
‘It was a pleasure to watch my side’ – what the managers said
Brighton manager Graham Potter, talking to Match of the Day: “We didn’t make the advantage count enough. We started the game well and forced a tactical change because we dominated, but the red card changes the game and we’ve got to make sure we don’t get caught. We did, which we’re disappointed with. We’re disappointed with a point but we’ve got to move forward with it.
“Sheffield Untied defend the box and goal really well, they don’t concede many chances, they have physicality on the break, and it’s still complicated with 10 men but we’re disappointed because we had that advantage for a while and we have to make it count.
“It’s a good finish from Danny [Welbeck] and it’s been a big win for him playing three games in a week – I’m delighted for him.”
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder, talking to Match of the Day: “There were some big moments in the game – [including] the red card.
“We showed an ambition to score – the turning point was at 85 minutes when we didn’t take the chance to go 2-0 up.”
On Jayden Bogle: “It’s one to remember for the young man – he’s come into the club and had to battle it out with George Baldock. He did a job defensively and he wanted to get himself up the pitch and support, which we did.”
Brighton travel to London Stadium in their next league fixture against West Ham on Sunday 27 December (14:15 BST), while Sheffield United welcome Everton to Bramall Lane a day earlier (20:00 BST).
Brighton & Hove Albion
- 3WhiteSubstituted forZeqiriat 72′minutes
- 5DunkBooked at 33mins
- 34VeltmanSubstituted forJahanbakhshat 45′minutes
- 9MaupaySubstituted forWelbeckat 66′minutes
- 10Mac Allister
- 1RamsdaleBooked at 90mins
- 6BashamBooked at 90mins
- 7LundstramBooked at 40mins
- 4FleckSubstituted forBurkeat 33′minutesBooked at 88mins
- 24BrewsterSubstituted forBogleat 54′minutes
- 17McGoldrickBooked at 70minsSubstituted forOsbornat 70′minutesBooked at 86mins
Match ends, Brighton and Hove Albion 1, Sheffield United 1.
Second Half ends, Brighton and Hove Albion 1, Sheffield United 1.
Attempt blocked. Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Brighton and Hove Albion) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Lewis Dunk with a headed pass.
Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion. Conceded by George Baldock.
Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Brighton and Hove Albion) hits the bar with a header from the right side of the six yard box.
Attempt blocked. Danny Welbeck (Brighton and Hove Albion) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Adam Lallana with a cross.
Chris Basham (Sheffield United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Aaron Connolly (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Chris Basham (Sheffield United).
Robert Sánchez (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jack Robinson (Sheffield United).
Foul by Danny Welbeck (Brighton and Hove Albion).
Chris Basham (Sheffield United) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Solly March (Brighton and Hove Albion).
Ben Osborn (Sheffield United) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Aaron Ramsdale (Sheffield United) is shown the yellow card.
Attempt missed. Leandro Trossard (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Aaron Connolly.
Foul by Aaron Connolly (Brighton and Hove Albion).
George Baldock (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Oliver Burke (Sheffield United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.