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17:07 29th August 2009

ROMAN Bednar's six-minute second-half double helped the Baggies extend their unbeaten start to the season to seven games in all competitions in a battling Bramall Lane draw.

But the Baggies were cruelly denied a third successive victory on their Coca-Cola Championship travels by a harsh penalty award three minutes from time.

Czech striker Bednar made an impressive return to league action and his 54th-minute header and volley on the hour-mark sandwiched Ched Evans' scrambled 55th-minute effort.

Roberto Di Matteo's men stubbornly resisted a barrage of Blades balls into their box after going 2-1 up.

But referee Phil Crossley spoilt the away fans' party when he awarded a dubious last-gasp spot-kick, which super sub David Cotterill stepped up to convert.

Still, the draw was enough to send the Baggies top of the table for the first time this season.

Bednar, making his first league appearance of the season, partnered Luke Moore in attack while Jerome Thomas was handed his full Baggies debut at right midfield.

Injury victims Chris Wood (ankle) and Chris Brunt (calf) were the men to make way.

The first real chance of the game came in the ninth minute when Darius Henderson's back-post header from Keith Treacy's left-wing cross was plucked out of the air on his goalline by Scott Carson.

The Baggies skipper immediately booted the ball upfield and Moore had the chance to shoot at goal from the edge of the area, only to lose his bearings and allow Chris Morgan to dispossess him.

Shaun Cummings needed to be alert in the 11th minute to block Matt Kilgallon's shot as the United centre-half pounced on Stephen Quinn's pull-back from the right by-line.

The first half was a scrappy affair - but Albion showed a spark in the 32nd minute.

Thomas exchanged passes with the marauding Cummings in the box and saw his goalbound shot deflect kindly off Morgan and into the arms of Mark Bunn.

Constant interruptions from referee Phil Crossley's whistle hindered the flow of the game and both teams were reduced to long-range efforts as first Koren blocked a Treacy strike.

At the other end, Slovenia international Koren curled a 20-yard free-kick just wide of the left-hand post.

A lucky ricochet off Bednar fell kindly for Marek Cech out on the left in the 38th minute and he delivered a cross to the near-post, where Moore beat Morgan to the ball but headed wide.

Two minutes later, Jonas Olsson blocked Jamie Ward's 20-yard strike and, from the resulting Treacy right-wing corner, Andy Taylor blazed a volley just over from the edge of the box.

Three minutes before the break, Evans' 25-yard snapshot had Carson beaten and the Baggies were relieved to see the ball fly inches past the left-hand upright for a goal kick.

The entertaiment level rocketed in the second half and, within three minutes of the restart, Kilgallon prodded the ball to Quinn on the edge of the area who let fly with a low left-foot strike which Carson palmed around the post.

Koren also went close when he picked up the ball in midfield in the 53rd minute and was allowed to run to within 20 yards of the Blades' goal before pulling his shot just wide of the left-hand post.

Just a minute later, Albion broke the deadlock.

Good build-up play down the right led to Cummings delivering a pinpoint cross for Bednar to head past Bunn and into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.

But just a minute later, Ward made room on the left flank and centred for Evans to head home despite Carson's valiant efforts to stop the ball crossing the line.

The Baggies made a change in the 59th minute with Graham Dorrans coming on for Moore.

And the substitute was celebrating with his team-mates just a minute later.

Bednar out-muscled Taylor from Carson's long punt upfield and kept his head to fire past Bunn from 12 yards.

Albion had a scare when Ward turned in Henderson's cross-cum-shot in the 65th minute - but he was adjudged offside.

Two minutes later, Albion fell asleep from Kilgallon's long diagonal free-kick to the back post and Treacy snuck in to force a good near-post save from Carson with his feet.

Kevin Blackwell made a switch in the 70th minute as he brought on Cotterill for Treacy.

Di Matteo swiftly followed with a substitution of his own as Reuben Reid came on for Thomas.

Olsson was relieved to see the offside flag go up in the 76th minute after he blazed Cech's free-kick over from close range with the goal at his mercy.

Albion were forced to dig in as the game edged towards its conclusion and appeared to have seen off the best the Blades could thrown at them - until the 87th minute.

The hosts were given a lifeline when Kent official Crossley harshly awarded a penalty against Shaun Cummings for an alleged foul on Henderson.

Cotterill calmly stepped up to fire the spot-kick into the bottom right-hand corner - just past the outstretched arm of Carson.

SHEFF UTD (4-4-2): Bunn; Montgomery, Morgan, Kilgallon, Walker; Taylor, Quinn, Treacy (Cotterill 70), Ward (Howard 90+3); Evans (K Reid 78), Henderson. Subs not used: Bennett (gk), France, Bromby, Sharp.

ALBION (4-4-2): Carson; Cummings, Martis, Olsson, Mattock; Thomas (R Reid 74), Mulumbu, Koren, Cech; Moore (Dorrans 59), Bednar. Subs not used: Kiely (gk), Barnett, Meite, Valero, Cox.

GOALS: SHEFF UTD - Evans (55), Cotterill (pen 87). ALBION - Bednar (54, 60).

BOOKINGS: SHEFF UTD - Henderson (handball 83). ALBION - Mulumbu (foul 16), Koren (simulation 61), Thomas (foul 67), Mattock (foul 71), Bednar (dissent 90+1).

REFEREE: P Crossley (Kent).



    Data provided by Press Association


    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.