The Blades U21’s pre-season schedule got under-way with a victory in S36 this evening, as the young Blades took on Penistone Church FC.
A decent crowd were in attendance, including Eddie Colquhoun and Matt Duke, on a night conducive to pre-season football and a pint.
Despite United keeper Jake Eastwood being forced to make the first save of the game, the Blades were rarely troubled in a game that saw them dominate more than the slender scoreline suggested.
The Blades had early luck down the left and the outstretched leg of McDonagh created the first real chance, with the Church keeper having to be alert to get down to his near post and keep out the effort. Otis Khan, playing right-back for the evening, was next to try his luck with a shot from distance before a great ball allowed Jake Wright to roll his defender and fire a shot right down the keepers throat. The stopper was equal to the effort and managed to beat it away to safety.
It was Wright who was to open the scoring however, when a long, accurate ball forward from Ioan Evans found the front-man, who, knowing the keeper was off his line, neatly sent a looping header into the back of the net.
Not long after, Wright would try his luck again with a turn and curling shot from around 18 yards forcing the keeper to scramble full stretch to turn away the effort destined for the bottom corner.
Evans headed a Blades corner over the bar before Coustrain did well to get in behind and force a good reaction save from the Penistone goalkeeper.
In perhaps their best move of the night, the hosts broke down the right hand side, before cutting the ball back to tee up a shot which Eastwood did well to keep out, allowing the Blades to go into the half time break in front.
Cockerline, Brooks and Willis came on at half time, replacing Wright, Wiles and Eastwood as Chris Morgan looked to rotate the eleven.
Khan got down the right, beat his man and pulled back for Heh, who shot first time but saw the effort fly agonisingly wide of the post.
McDonagh, always keen to run at his man got a knock and was replaced by Slew.
After a cheeky effort from a Penistone man – who had spotted Willis off his line – sailed safely over the bar, a fantastic run through the middle from Brooks set up Heh, who shot just wide.
Brooks, having seemingly grown in height during the summer, was having an impressive display showing composure and an eagerness to get on the ball and make things happen.
As the Blades continued to look to add to their lead, a teasing ball was sent across the Penistone 6-yard box, but unfortunately, nobody could get a touch.
Eager to give plenty of players minutes on the pitch, Morgan shuffled the pack again with Heh, Coustrain and Whiteman being replaced by Maw, Gordon and Hamilton before Adebowale, Brown, Semple and Charlsworth replaced Evans, Banton, Khan and Kelly.
Substitute Maw dragged a shot just wide, before CJ Hamilton sprinted into the area and fired in a shot which the keeper did very well to save with his legs.
The Blades were running out of time to add to their slender advantage and after a United corner was headed clear at the front post, there was only time for a Penistone free kick to fly just wide before the referee signalled the end of the game.
Penistone Church FC: Dean, Lee, Cadzow, Howes, Moore, Jones, Ellis, Dickinson, Lovell, Crossfield, Battaglia.
Subs: Hoyle, Briggs, Whitehead, Riley, Exley, Young, Almond, Baldwin, Dowel, Hall.
Sheffield United U21s: Eastwood (Willis), Khan (Semple), Kelly (Brown), Whiteman (Gordon), Banton (Adebowale), Evans (Charlsworth), Coustrain (Hamilton), Wiles (Brooks), McDonagh (Slew), Wright (Cockerline), Heh (Maw).