Sharp equaliser resuces Blades
Blades earn draw with Sky Blues despite Sun Jihai dismissal
By Elliot Ball. Last Updated: 16/09/08 11:12pm
Sharp: Levelled match
A Billy Sharp equaliser rescued a point for 10-man Sheffield Utd as they drew 1-1 with Coventry at Bramall Lane.
Sharp produced a trademark finish to rescue a point for the promotion hopefuls, sparing the blushes of team-mate Sun Jihai in the process, while the Sky Blues will rue missed chances failing to convert a penalty.
Jay Tabb gave the Sky Blues a richly-deserved half-time advantage with a clinical right-foot finish after the Blades defence had failed to deal with Aron Gunnarsson's long throw.
And the visitors should have doubled their lead a minute after the break when Sun up-ended Michael Mifsud in the penalty area, but Elliott Ward put the resulting spot-kick wide.
When Sun was sent off soon after for a lunge on the diminutive Mifsud it looked as though the visitors were destined to return south with all three points, but in a rare United attack Sharp slotted home his fourth goal of the season to salvage a point.
Blades boss Kevin Blackwell responded to his side's defeat at Derby on Saturday by handing record signing James Beattie his first start of the season.
The former Everton striker was promoted from the bench after convincing Blackwell he had fully recovered from a knee injury.
Sky Blues manager Chris Coleman warned his side to be prepared for a "war" in South Yorkshire and they were clearly up for the battle in the opening stages.
Freddy Eastwood wriggled free of his marker six minutes in and forced a sharp reflex save from Blades goalkeeper Paddy Kenny.
Kenny was called into action again nine minutes later when Iceland midfielder Gunnarsson sped through the Blades midfield far too easily and produced a right-foot drive that Kenny could only palm into the path of Clinton Morrison, who forced the United goalkeeper into another fine save from close range.
The home side finally fashioned an opening at the other end when David Cotterill's cross reached Stephen Quinn at the far post, but the flame-haired midfielder was denied by a brave block from Isaac Osbourne.
But it was Coventry who deservedly took the lead 29 minutes in courtesy of Tabb.
Gunnarsson produced a mammoth long throw from the left and the ball was flicked into the path of the onrushing Tabb, who rifled home a clinical right-foot finish to give Kenny no chance.
The home supporters urged their side forward at the start of the second half, but they should have been two goals down just a minute after the restart.
Sun got the wrong side of Mifsud, who replaced Leon McKenzie at the break, and as the Malta forward prepared to shoot he was pulled back by the former Manchester City man and referee Darren Deadman pointed to the spot.
Ward stepped up casually before placing his spot-kick wide of Kenny's left-hand post.
That brought the Blades fans to life, but they were silenced once again after 50 minutes when Sun was shown a straight red card for a lunge on Mifsud.
The Chinese defender reacted to his dismissal with a show of petulance and took an eternity to leave the field.
But his team-mates showed a more positive reaction and were level five minutes later.
Cotterill was the architect, crossing for Sharp, who created a yard of space before firing a left-foot shot past Keiren Westwood.
Ward almost atoned for his penalty miss when his left-foot strike flashed wide of the post.
And Leon Best missed a golden opportunity to win it for the visitors with the last kick of the game, but fired wide with only Kenny to beat.
Sky Bet Championship
Tue 16th Sep
Bristol C1 - 2Birmingham
Doncaster0 - 1Charlton
Swansea1 - 1Derby
Watford1 - 2Plymouth
Sheff Utd1 - 1Coventry
Burnley2 - 0Blackpool
Preston2 - 1N Forest
Barnsley0 - 1Cardiff
Wolves2 - 1C Palace
Reading6 - 0Sheff Wed
Sky Bet Championship
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