Blades settle for third
Sheffield United were unable to secure automatic promotion after being held by Crystal Palace.
Last Updated: 03/05/09 4:06pm
Sheffield United were unable to secure automatic promotion to the Premier League after being held to a goalless draw by Crystal Palace.
The Blades needed to win and hope that Birmingham dropped points against reading, but they could not keep their part of the bargain at Selhurst Park.
Former Sheffield United boss Neil Warnock, now in charge at Palace, saw his troops defend resolutely in a game of few chances at either end.
The Blades' first opportunity came after 11 minutes. A clearance from Paddy Kenny released David Cotterill down the right-hand side.
He cut infield and sent an arrow-like cross to the far post where Darius Henderson was arriving unmarked.
But the pace of the ball was just too much for the Blades striker and, at full stretch, he powered his header wide.
At the other end, Neil Danns volleyed wide after the ball dropped to him on the edge of the area following a corner.
The latest of several long throws into the box from Kyle Walker ricocheted into Cotterill's path midway through the first half, but the former Bristol City striker snatched at the chance and blazed his shot over the crossbar from the edge of the six yard box.
United continued to apply pressure and only a fine save from Julian Speroni to push Chris Morgan's downward header over the crossbar kept the Blades at bay just after the half-hour mark.
Soon afterwards, Cotterill's shot from the right-hand side of the box had Speroni scrambling across his goal.
Two minutes into the second half Victor Moses broke clear but, with two defenders in tow, shot straight at Kenny.
Danns was guilty of a glaring miss after 57 minutes when Nick Carle poked the ball past the Blades' backline.
With just Kenny to beat the former Colchester midfielder dragged his shot wide from 15 yards.
Arguably the game's best chance came after 62 minutes. Ward created space for himself in a crowded area with a neat piece of control on his chest.
But just as the 7,465 travelling Blades fans were poised to celebrate, Speroni rushed from his line to block the ball six yards out.
Immediately afterwards, Speroni then tipped Greg Halford's far post header over the crossbar.
Morgan striking a post with a header in injury-time confirmed that it was not to be Sheffield United's day.