Ironic I suppose that in a season where we have struggled so badly for goals, in a derby game where we have offered pretty much nothing in the way of attacking we are awarded a penalty at 1-0 down with around ten minutes left, and fail to take the opportunity.
Thus, ensuring that we have the inognamy of no being the most impotent home side ever, 'beating' a near 100 year old record. Little wonder really when you think back over the games this season, and the tactics and approach adopted at home (regardless of opposition). Tactics, which in fairness have worked well in patches on our travels (and in truth the Christmas and Easter away run of victories are looking vital now) but are not condusive to getting wins at home.
And so it proved on Saturday. Concensus being it was one of the most lacklustre derbies in some time with neither side impressing and creating chances. Perhaps United were suffering from tiredness with recent exertions but this meant there was an opportunity to attack them, but we failed to do so. There was an interesting obervation that against the top four sides at home, we have scored one and conceded two - all goals being scored from the penalty spot.
I felt United's penalty was one, allbeit slightly earned with Ball all too keen to jump into the challenge which wasn't necessary - maybe he had not quite calmed down from his stamp on Ronaldo which I imagine will see a letter from the FA land on his doorstep.
But (the suited) Pearce couldn't alter things enough following going behind to get back in the game, and any 'chances' were reduced to a couple of long range efforts easily handled by van der Sar.
The introduction of Dickov may have been the final straw for some fans, and his highlights package included pushing players at a corner (earning himself a booking) and tussling with Wes Brown in the corner when there was no real gain to be had.
A penalty was won though, and I used the word won as Ball was quite clever in making contact with Brown to get the decision. In the absence of Barton, Darius Vassell (whose career has seemingly been in decline since missing a penalty for England) stepped up and hit it straight down the middle and van der Sar got enough on it to send it to safety.
A defeat then (perhaps as expected by most), but certainly not in the manner that most expected. If the last home game of the season lives long in the memory over the summer then there will not be too many fans thinking back over the season and hoping for same again next time round.Reports:TelegraphIndependentThe Times