Jordan Pickford stopped Everton sinking to a fourth straight defeat by the narrowest of margins as he turned Oli McBurnie’s shot on to the bar in stoppage time to ensure the points were shared.
McBurnie looked as though he would win it for Sheffield United and pile the pressure on Sean Dyche when he headed goalwards in the ninth minute of stoppage time, only for Pickford to fly to his right and keep it out.
That made up for Pickford’s unlucky own-goal at the end of the first half.
Though both ended runs of three successive defeats, they remain winless and did little to suggest that they can steer clear of an extended relegation battle this season. Arnaut Danjuma’s second-half equaliser at least eased the strain on Dyche a little but he knows there are plenty more difficult days ahead.
The players showed great attitude and there were flashes of good attacking play yet the numerous mistakes on either side would have been punished by better teams.
Abdoulaye Doucoure’s scrappy effort put Everton in front only for Blades to roar back.
Cameron Archer scored his first goal for the club on his league debut following his £19million move from Aston Villa, and when Archer’s shot hit the post and bounced back into the net off Pickford, it gave the home side a half-time lead. Danjuma brought Everton level early in the second half and that was the way it stayed as neither side could find the quality to secure a winner.
Dyche saw the Blues squeeze past League Two Doncaster in the Carabao Cup last week, while Paul Heckingbottom’s men were eliminated by Lincoln.
Blades paraded James McAtee on the pitch before kick-off after he returned to the club on loan from Manchester City and the home side created the first opportunity when John Egan’s header was saved by Pickford.
Moments later, Gustavo Hamer released Archer after a loose pass from Danjuma, forcing James Tarkowski to rescue Everton with a well-timed block.
Sheffield United: Foderingham, Ahmedhodzic, Egan (Basham, 68), Robinson, Baldock, Souza, Norwood, Hamer, Larouci (Thomas, 68), McBurnie, Archer (Traore, 75)
Subs not used: Davies, Trusty, Basham, Bogle, Slimane, Osula
Goals: Archer 33, Pickford OG 45+3
Manager: Paul Heckingbottom
Everton: Pickford, Patterson, Tarkowski (Godfrey, 90+1), Branthwaite, Young, Garner (McNeil, 75), Gueye, Onana, Danjuma, Doucoure, Beto
Subs not used: Virginia, Mykolenko, Chermiti, Lonergan, Onyango
Goals: Doucoure 14, Danjuma 55
Bookings: Branthwaite, Doucoure
Manager: Sean Dyche
It proved a key intervention as Everton moved ahead in the 14th minute. After Beto’s effort had been turned around the post, Amadou Onana’s header from Ashley Young’s corner hit Doucoure’s knee and appeared to be creeping into the corner.
Wes Foderingham did well to keep it out but the ball fell again to Doucoure, who prodded it home. It was an untidy match, with both sides making errors on the ball, and Everton could have moved further ahead when Onana robbed Hamer and released Danjuma. The Dutchman shot when he should have set up Beto – on his league debut – and Everton had to settle for a corner.
At the other end, Pickford turned Hamer’s shot around the post before Blades drew level just after the half-hour mark. Hamer’s cross fell to the poorly-marked McBurnie, who did well to tee up Archer for a first-time finish.
It got even better for Archer in first-half stoppage time. The forward collected Hamer’s clever volleyed pass and though his curling effort from the edge of the box hit the post, it rebounded back into the net off the head of the luckless Pickford.
Dyche was furious at the start of the second half when Blades defender Anel Ahmedhodzic was shown only a yellow card for pulling back Danjuma just outside the box as headed for goal. To make matters worse, Danjuma hammered the free-kick into the wall – but he and the Everton fans were soon smiling.
Beto fed Nathan Patterson on the right and when the full-back delivered the cross, Danjuma was rewarded for excellent movement as he tapped in at the far post in front of the travelling supporters.
Though the standard of the match was generally poor, there was plenty of excitement. More uncertain defending from Everton presented Yasser Larouci with a chance that he fired high and wide.
Blades signed Luke Thomas on loan from Leicester last week and the left-back nearly claimed a debut goal moments after replacing Larouci, only for Pickford to save his close-range volley. Hamer’s low effort on the follow-up was blocked as both sides hung on for a draw.