The Blades fielded a strong U21’s side against Matlock Town on Tuesday night and were rewarded with a comfortable victory. It wasn’t all good news however, with Matty Done leaving the ground in an ambulance after an awkward fall not long into the fixture – later confirmed to have broken his collar bone.
After a fairly uneventful opening 7 minutes or so, Done, playing on the right wing challenged for a ball, fell awkwardly and laid motionless on the turf. After initial assessment from the physio, he walked off gingerly to be replaced by McDonagh, before later leaving the ground in the back of an ambulance. He was evidently in a lot of pain, receiving oxygen for the apparent shoulder injury.
The early substitute Jamie-Dean McDonagh was to be involved not long after play re-started, reacting quickly to a rebound after initially causing trouble from a deep cross into the box. Tapping home from short range, the locals bemoaned their predictions of him scoring, having been impressed with the youngster in his successful loan spell last season.
Next to try his luck, was Diego DeGirolamo, who curled a shot just over the bar after receiving the ball from the busy Stefan Scougall.
The Blades were struggling to keep hold of the ball in the final third and after trading fruitless corners, it was the hosts who were to have the next meaningful opportunity.
Joel Purkiss was played in behind for the hosts, he put his head down and moved in on goal only to see George Willis close down the angle and bravely block the attempt, picking up a knock in the process.
Matlock put together another dangerous move just afterwards, with a deep cross towards the man at the back post. Thankfully for the Blades Andy Cartwright (left Sunderland in June) was on hand to head to safety.
The Blades went back down the other end and Calvert-Lewin had an effort deflected just wide before Louis Reed shot wide from 20 yards.
There was just enough time remaining in the first half for DeGirolamo to play a one-two with Calvert-Lewin before shooting off target.
DeGirolamo was involved again early in the second half, when his shot was deflected onto the top of the crossbar by a Matlock man.
The hardworking Scougall was replaced by CJ Hamilton, who made a impact from the left hand side. Using his pace to get towards the byline, the youngster put a tempting ball across the 6 yard box, where McDonagh was once again on hand to turn over the line and grab his, and United’s second of the game.
McDonagh sensed the opportunity for a hat-trick and after being played the ball by James Wallace was frustrated to shoot wide from the edge of the box. Another opportunity came just afterwards, this time DeGirolamo the provider, but Gladiators keeper King managed to block McDonagh’s effort with his body.
Despite the pressure from United, the hosts were still in the game and they grabbed a lifeline via the head of captain Danny Holland. Attacking down their left hand side, the hosts played a deep cross into the United box with the striker up highest to nod just under the crossbar and beyond Willis.
Always involved as the Blades pushed forward, McDonagh was unlucky not to bag his third of the game and saw his header crash back off the crossbar and to safety with the keeper beaten.
DeGirolamo would shake the woodwork yet again shortly after, sending in a free kick from just outside the box which came back out from the under side of the bar.
The Blades were to extend their lead, in bizarre fashion – A cross was sent in towards the back post and as everyone seemed to stop play, Calvert-Lewin managed to poke home at the back post.
Soon after, the Blades confirmed the result from the penalty spot. Diego DeGirolamo taking responsibility and converting from the spot to seal the victory.
Matlock Town: King, Harcourt, Algar, Travis, Yates, Radford, Cribley, Needham, Purkiss, Holland (c), McManus
Sheffield United: Willis, Cartwright, Wallace K (c), Whiteman, Dimaio, Wallace J, Scougall (Hamilton), Reed, Done (McDonagh), DeGirolamo, Calvert-Lewin