24 hours after seeing the Sheffield United first team secure their place in the Sixth Round of the FA Cup, it was the turn of the U18’s as they played host to Everton in front of a crowd of 1488 at Bramall Lane on Monday evening.
Sadly, despite their efforts, United struggled to emulate the previous days successes, bowing out 2-0 against a very good Everton side.
It was the Blades who got the game under way, kicking towards the Bramall Lane End on a pitch which had held up surprisingly well despite the recent weather, yesterday’s endeavours and the rain which coincided with the teams emerging from the tunnel.
After almost creating a chance with a hopeful ball in towards captain Ioan Evans, the Blades were on the back foot early doors. Tyrone Duffus could only head a Ryan Ledson delivery wide after Blades defender Julian Banton had put behind for a corner.
United had made a sloppy start and Eastwood had to pull off a great save to deny Dyson’s deflected shot after the ball was given away at the back. With the young Blades struggling to adjust to the 5-3-2 formation, the visitors came close again with Dyson this time heading just inches wide with Jake Eastwood at full stretch.
It was becoming evident why Everton are doing so well in their league, they were in control in the early stages and playing some decent football. Courtney Duffus (twin brother of Tyrone), had a go from distance, shooting straight at Eastwood before Harry Charsley hit the outside of the post with a difficult chance at the back post.
It was a let off for United and they should have perhaps done better after breaking at speed, Diego De Girolamo was dispossessed as he attempted another step over rather than squaring to Khan, who was in acres of space.
Neat play down the right from the Blades looked to have stretched the visitors, but unfortunately Jason Paling’s miss-hit cross went out for a goal kick.
After a couple of forays forward from the Toffee’s, the Blades tried to get into the game, Scarisbrick put in a great ball which evaded the attentions of everyone before Connor Dimaio had a go from distance after good build up play. Shortly after De Girolamo beat a couple of men before curling an effort just wide.
The impressive Everton were soon back down the other end and after Charsley shot tamely into the hands of Eastwood, it was to be the visitors who broke the deadlock.
Calvert-Lewin and Thornily went in for a 50/50 challenge 25 yards out, which saw the ball fortuitously loop to Courtney Duffus who turned Banton brilliantly before slotting home in front of the empty Kop.
The same man was in the thick of the action shortly after, as he charged down and blocked Eastwood’s kick only to see it thankfully bounce wide of the net.
It had been Everton’s half and as the fourth official indicated a minute of added time they pushed forward again after another fortunate bounce sent them 3 on 2. Dom Calvert-Lewin, playing deeper than usual, managed to halt the attack and the Blades went into the break one down.
After the break, United reverted to a more familiar 4-2-3-1 formation, but the change had hardly had chance to settle before the impressive Courtney Duffus was causing trouble again. The pacey striker knocked it past his man and was taken to the floor, the referee taking no time in pointing to the penalty spot.
Everton captain Gethin Jones was the man charged with taking the penalty in front of the Bramall Lane End and dispatched it into the bottom right corner, past Eastwood who had guessed the right way but could do nothing to stop it.
No strangers to coming from behind, the Blades had an uphill task to get back into the game against a strong, quick and well organised Everton side.
Otis Khan played in Calvert-Lewin with a good ball from the left, holding off the pull back from the defender, he raced into the area only to see his shot agonisingly come back off the post and to safety.
Louis Reed and Joel Coustrain were sent on in place of Ben Whiteman and Jake Eyre as Travis Binnion looked to change things and attempt to get back into the game.
Connor Dimaio took a good touch before shooting off target, before substitute Coustrain almost pounced on a good chance but for Curtis Langton clearing well for the visitors.
Otis Khan was next up to try his luck, having a go from 30 yards but seeing his shot end up a yard wide of the left hand post. Khan then sent in a free kick towards Evans, but he couldn’t connect with the header resulting in the ball going tamely wide.
The energetic Coustrain made himself another opportunity, but stumbled and couldn’t get a clean shot away, allowing Russell Griffiths to gather routinely.
United were more positive in their play, but Everton were still dangerous, Jake Eastwood was called into action again with a fantastic double save as Courtney Duffus caused havok in the Blades box.
The home side were forced into a final change as Scarisbrick had to come off with what looked like a dislocated shoulder, Dan Cockerline replaced him.
Another good run from Coustrain created another opening, Connor Dimaio firing just wide of the post. Both Otis Khan and Calvert-Lewin shot straight at the goalkeeper before Diego De Girolamo muscled his way past two men before hitting a tame shot at Griffiths in the Everton goal.
For all their effort, the Blades were being frustrated by a comfortable Everton side, Griffiths again thwarting any come back as he tipped Cockerline’s goal-bound effort over the bar.
It wasn’t to be for United and whilst they could be proud of their efforts, the visitors remained strong during 4 minutes of added time to book their visit to either Arsenal or Charlton in the next round.
Sheffield United: Eastwood, Paling, Scarisbrick (Cockerline, 78), Whiteman (Reed, 59), Evans (c), Banton, Dimaio, Calvert-Lewin, Eyre (Coustrain, 59), De Girolamo, Khan
Unused Subs: Cheeseman, Owen
Everton: Griffiths, Jones (c), Thornily (Connolly, 78), Graham, Langton, Williams, Dyson (Donohue, 72), Ledson (Shannon, 89), C Duffus, T Duffus, Charsley
Unused Subs: Hewelt, Brewster