Caretaker Darren Currie guides Barnet to historic win over ‘arrogant’ Sheffield United
There would have been one Sheffield United supporter who was less than fuming about being beaten in the FA Cup by a mid-table Conference side: the Barnet manager’s uncle.
Tony Currie, the former Blades and England midfielder, watched his nephew Darren guide the north London side to an upset which left Chris Wilder, the man in charge at Bramall Lane, accusing his players of being “arrogant”.
The younger Currie, who has only been in the job in a caretaker role for 10 days after John Still’s sudden retirement, said his uncle had told him that Barnet fully deserved the win and “he’s proud of me. He felt that we played very well on the day.”
Currie added: “Naturally he’ll be hurting, he wants his team to go through, but he’s proud of me and what I’ve done today.”
Meanwhile Wilder was, well, wild. He had made 10 changes to his side for the meeting with a team 83 league places below United and they were undone by a first-half penalty from Shaquile Coulthirst. It was the least Barnet deserved, after Jack Taylor and Ephron Mason-Clark enjoyed early chances and the home side butchered a host of opportunities despite dominating possession.
And afterwards Wilder recommended that his players sneak out of the ground via a side entrance.
“We’re quite fortunate that it’s not been two or three,” he said. “They were the better team in every part of the game.
“I said to the boys, ‘don’t go out through the main entrance, you don’t deserve it. Find a door to sneak out of’. It was a performance of arrogance, going off plan and doing what they wanted to.
“The fans should have booed the players louder – we’ve got an identity of playing and we are a team that has a go. We went out the back door today – that is incredibly difficult for me to take.”
The visitors made a lively start and Taylor fired wide from 20 yards as early as the fourth minute.
Then Mason-Clark then got clear on the right, only for Richard Stearman to block his shot on goal, before Coulthirst’s header was ruled out for offside.
At the other end Dan Sweeney blocked debutant Kieran Dowell’s goalbound effort, but the Bees once again produced a rapid counter-attack and Stearman had to produce a last-ditch tackle to deny Coulthirst.
However, the former Wolves defender could not repeat the heroics when Mason-Clark broke free on the left after 20 minutes, with Stearman clumsily bringing him down.
Coulthirst converted the penalty, although Blades keeper Simon Moore did get a hand to it.
Barnet might have extended their lead after the break. Marvin Johnson had to deflect Mason-Clark’s low cross behind with Coulthirst lurking, and from the resulting corner Moore tipped over Callum Reynolds’ header.
Read more: How Sheffield United have quietly become the story of the Championship season so far
The following set-piece also produced a chance, with Sweeney getting the ball caught under his feet when two yards out with the ball at his mercy.
The hosts finally carved out a meaningful chance after 65 minutes, but Kieron Freeman dragged his shot wide after a neat build-up involving Leon Clarke and Dowell.
United are sitting pretty in the Championship, two points below the automatic promotion places. But yesterday’s performance served as a wake-up call to Wilder and his team’s potential. I’m looking at today and thinking that we might not need one, we might need 11 [in the transfer window] – the players that played today will struggle to be a part of things going forward.”
Currie, meanwhile, hopes the win will lead to a permanent job as manager. “It’s a job I want, it’s the place I want to start. Hopefully today will help me,” he said.
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