Sheffield United 1 1 Cardiff City
Monday 2nd April at 7.45pm
Bramall Lane
Championship

Super-sub Pilkington grabs late equaliser to rescue a point

A stoppage-time Anthony Pilkington volley salvaged a point for Cardiff City against play-off hopefuls Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

Leon Clarke’s deflected effort gave the Blades the lead, before Pilkington struck a minute into injury time.

Cardiff have opened up an eight-point gap on third-placed Fulham in the Championship.

However, Neil Warnock’s side missed out a 71-year-old club record-equalling ninth successive win.

Leon Clarke’s first-half strike looked to have made it an unhappy return for Warnock to his boyhood club, but substitute Pilkington struck in the 91st minute to maintain Cardiff’s 13-game unbeaten league run.

United are ninth are in the table, one point outside the play-off places.

Warnock managed the Blades from 1999-2007 and took them to the Premier League in 2006.

John Lundstram could have given the hosts the lead inside the first two minutes, but his headed effort from six yards out lacked power and was straight at keeper Neil Etheridge.

Cardiff’s first chance came when Marko Grujic’s shot from outside the box was deflected towards goal by Kenneth Zohore, but the striker was ruled offside and Blades keeper Simon Moore always had it covered.

Leon Clarke scores his first goal in 11 games for Sheffield United

Clarke’s first goal since New Year’s Day gave the hosts the lead against the run of play just before the half-hour mark.

Lundstram played a neat ball into his feet and Clarke managed to get his shot away off Bruno Manga to breach the best defence in the Championship this season.

The Blades dominated the rest of the first half, with the Bluebirds unable to get a foothold.

Cardiff brought on Gary Madine for Nathaniel Mendez-Laing for the second half and started with purpose.

Aron Gunnarsson beat two men down the right before firing across the face of goal.

Zohore got himself into the box moments later, but his shot was palmed over by Moore.

The hosts reasserted themselves as Wales international David Brooks’ shot was bravely blocked by Etheridge after good work from John Fleck.

United substitute Clayton Donaldson was unlucky to hit the woodwork with Etheridge well beaten.

United also had a shout for a penalty when Lee Evans claimed to have been clipped by Manga in the penalty area.

Cardiff did not look like scoring until the ball fell nicely for substitute Pilkington, who fired the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

Cardiff City boss Neil Warnock

“When you equalise late on in a game like that, it’s a fantastic feeling. It sets us up great for the small matter of Wolves on Friday.

“It’s all about hanging in there and we showed a lot of guts and determination for that.

“Give our lads some credit for never giving in.

“I thought the subs did well when they came on.”

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder

“We haven’t got the result we wanted, but not for the lack of trying.

“We should have accumulated loads more points over the last five games, we’re playing well enough but the ball in the back of the net puts teams to bed.

“We try to play in a way that our supports enjoy… but in the end you’ve got to win and that decides the teams that are successful and the teams that maybe just fall out.”

Player ratings

Etheridge   7.5

Manga   7

Morrison   6.5

Bamba   6

Bennett   7

Mendez Laing   5

Grujic   5.5

Gunnarsson   5.5

Paterson   5.5

Hoilett   5.5

Zohore   6.5

Subs

Madine   6 (for Mendez Laing 45 mins)

Pilkington   6.5 (for Zohore 78 mins)

Wildschut   6.5 (for Hoilett 78 mins)