Sheffield United 2 Town 1
Sheffield United: Simon Moore, John Fleck, Chris Basham, Billy Sharp (c), Matt Done, Jake Wright, Paul Coutts (Jack O'Connell 46), Kieron Freeman (Harry Chapman 59), Ethan Ebanks-Blake, Mark Duffy (Stefan Scougall 10), Daniel Lafferty
Subs: Caolan Lavery, Aaron Ramsdale, Reece Brown, Leon Clarke
Town: Mark Halstead, Olly Lancashire, Abu Ogogo, Ivan Toney (Sylvan Ebanks-Blake 46), Louis Dodds, Jim O'Brien, Junior Brown, Jack Grimmer, Gary Deegan, AJ Leitch-Smith (Ian Black 46), Adam El-Abd (c)
Subs: Jayson Leutwiler, Mat Sadler, Dom Smith,Antoni Sarcevic, George Waring
Ref: Darren Deadman
Assistants: Bob Roberts and Richard Bartlett
Fourth Official: Peter Gooch
Attendance: 20195 (549 from Town)
Paul Hurst makes the one change from the side that beat Oxford United at home last Saturday. Junior Brown returns from injury and comes in for Mat Sadler who drops back to the bench. Shaun Whalley is missing with a slight thigh problem which keeps him out of contention for today's game.
The home side were quick out of the blocks and were looking to put the pressure onto Town early on. They were getting the ball forward looking to get at the visitors and were getting into some good positions. The best early chance came after the ball was put into the box found Duffy, he took the ball down and switched it to his other foot before hitting in a decent shot but his team mate Done was in the way to block.
Sheffield were 1-0 up on 7 minutes when a ball over the Town defence found Billy Sharp in acres of space, there was no offside flag and Sharp kept his cool to drive in on goal and fire a low shot under Halstead to give the Blades the lead.
Town were pushing and creating and went close first from Deegan and an O'Brien free-kick was clear but only as far as Deegan and he tried his luck from 25 yards with a nice shot that flew just over the bar. Moments later Town pressure saw the ball with AJ Leitch-Smith in the Blades box, he ran on goal on the diagonal and fired in a low drive but Moore was down quickly to save.
There was a big decision on 19 minutes after Daniel Lafferty played a neat one to two to get in behind the Town defence, O'Brien was with him and slid in for the tackle, he looked to get the ball but ref Deadman was close by, he seemed to not give it but then pointed to the spot before producing a red card to send Jim O'Brien off and reduce Town to 10 men. It was Billy Sharp who placed the ball and he hit a decent shot in on goal but Halstead was equal to it with an important save to keep the score at 1-0.
It was 2-0 to Sheffield on 24 minutes after the ball was delivered to the back post to find a Blades players in space, he headed it back to set-up Scougall who calmly side footed the ball past Halstead to make it 2-0 to the home side.
Ref Deadman was reaching for his cards again after the ball dropped just outside the Town box, El-Abd slid in to challenge Basham and looked to catch the Blades man, ref Deadman was again on the spot and saw enough for a free-kick and a yellow card for the Town skipper.
As the game entered injury time the ball dropped into space, Abu Ogogo and Paul Coutts were closest to it and went into get possession, Abs slid in a touch late and caught Coutts but ref Deadman was there again and was reaching straight for the red card.
The half started with a double change for Town with Paul Hurst bringing on Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Ian Black to replace Ivan Toney and AJ Leitch-Smith.
Town hit Sheffield with the counter attack when Dodds got the ball out on the right, he kept his run going and drove for the goal before winning a corner for Town. The corner was swung in but cleared and Sheffield looked to counter, the ball was put out wide and Deegan tussled for the ball, ref Deadman acknowledged the foul but let Sheffield play on as they had the ball, the quickly moved it to look to get Sharp in but Junior Brown was quickly over to slide in with an important tackle.
It was always going to be a tough ask of Town with the 9 men but as Sheffield put the pressure on Town responded well and were digging in. it was backs to the wall stuff at times as the home side moved the ball around quickly looking to pick a hole in the Town defence but they were working very hard to put the running in and closing to keep it at 2-0.
When Sheffield did get through the Town defence Mark Halstead was having a good half commanding his box when needed and pulling off a string of good saves to deny good chances for Sheffield.
On 74 minutes Town grabbed a goal back and it started with good hold up play from Sylvan Ebanks-Blake to give Town possession in the right area. Town waited to regroup and then moved the ball quickly to Deegan, he did well to hold it up before playing a lovely ball into the box for Louis Dodds and he put a great finish past Moore to make it 2-1 and give 9 man Town a glimmer of hope.
With 15 minutes of the game remaining Deegan was muscled off the ball and the ball was played to put Matt Done in on goal, he only had Halstead to beat and put his shot down to the keepers right but Halstead was equal to it with a superb one handed save. The corner was swung into the Town box to find Billy Sharp with a close ranger header but again Halstead was there equal to it with a lovely tip over the bar.
Town's goal was leading a charmed life at times and when a scruffy cross from the left came in it bounced awkwardly in front of Halstead and then looked to be going in at the back post but Junior Brown was there to bundle the ball behind for a corner.
In the end it was a case of what might have been after a superb second half performance from 9 men Town that they can take heart from going into Tuesday nights trip to Fleetwood Town.