The Blades Academy side marched into the third round of the FA Youth Cup after a thumping victory over minnows Worcester City at Bramall Lane on Wednesday night, courtesy of hat-tricks for Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Jake Eyre, along with goals from Dan Cockerline, Ben Whiteman and Jason Paling.
There were three changes in personnel for the home side compared to the first round tie at Oldham, with Gareth Owen replacing Jake Eastwood in net, Elliot Ptak making way for Kyle Scarisbrick and Joel Coustrain taking Kler Heh’s place on the wing.
In what was a quiet opening to the game, it was actually the visitors who tested the keeper first. Jamie Smith’s low drive from a free kick was saved low down by Owen, who did well to hold onto the ball when taking the very wet conditions into consideration.
It didn’t take long for the home side to take the lead, though, as CALVERT-LEWIN spotted Sam Hawker slightly off his line before chipping expertly into the far corner from the edge of the penalty area with less than 10 minutes gone.
An early goal was the best thing that could happen for the home side, and they soon made the gulf in class show as they dominated possession. A slick passing move saw Cockerline try to play Coustrain in behind with a backheel, but Hawker reacted well as the pass was slightly over hit.
The second goal of the game came in the 19th minute, as Otis Khan picked the ball up on the left touchline before cutting inside and sending a teasing cross to the back post where CALVERT-LEWIN jumped the highest to head home, past the stranded Hawker.
Calvert-Lewin had a good chance to grab his hat-trick moments later as Jason Paling sent in a cross from left back, but he couldn’t divert his header goalwards and the visitors eventually cleared the danger.
After Louis Reed appeared to pull a hamstring just past the half hour mark, Ben Whiteman was brought on in his place and was involved immediately as the Blades won a trio of corners. The last of the three was delivered perfectly for Ioan Evans to head home, but an excellent defensive header from Luke Seldon prevented the inevitable.
As the home side pushed more and more for a third goal, City had Hawker to thank for keeping the deficit at just two. A Joel Coustrain cross was met by the head of Dan Cockerline at the near post, only for Hawker to get a hand to it and tip it onto the post before Jack Brighton cleared.
It wouldn’t be long until the third goal came along, and Calvert-Lewin was involved once again. He sent a great cross to the back post for COCKERLINE, who headed into a virtual empty net at the back post six yards out. This seemed to be a killer blow for the visitors as their heads visibly dropped with only three minutes to play in the first half.
The second half began with Worcester having their only shot of the period as Jack Brighton attempted a half volley from over 30 yards, only to see it go high and wide of Gareth Owen’s goal.
United created a host of good chances in the second half, and Dan Cockerline should have had his second of the game in the 52nd minute after a good through ball from the energetic Coustrain saw him one-on-one with Hawker, but the tall striker placed his left footed effort wide.
That miss didn’t matter, though, as BEN WHITEMAN put the home side four goals to the good just a minute later with a very cool finish from ten yards out. This was all thanks to excellent work from Coustrain, who showed skill and composure to flick over his own shoulder before delaying a shot to pick out the perfect pass for the Heywood born midfielder.
That would be Coustrain’s last action of the game, with Binnion sending on Jake Eyre as he continued his recovery from injury.
Just three minutes after that change, Dan Cockerline picked the ball up on the left and showed great power and skill to go past four Worcester challenges before unselfishly pulling the ball back for EYRE, who made no mistake from six yards out to make it five after 59 minutes.
And in the 60th minute, a long ball from the Blades’ defence managed to evade everybody on the field except for the on-rushing EYRE, who picked up the ball and slotted it home from 20 yards with his left foot to grab his second of the game despite being on the pitch for just five minutes.
Sheffield United were not content with only six, and they continued to push for a goal as Gareth Owen remained a spectator for the entire second half. Jason Paling’s speculative effort deserved better from the corner of the box as he saw the ball go inches wide of Hawker’s far post, before Eyre thought he’d bagged a hat-trick with a neat finish. Sadly for him, he was rightly ruled offside by the linesman.
Consecutive free kicks for the Blades led to decent efforts from first round goalscorer Otis Khan and Calvert-Lewin that went over the bar, and these two linked up well before Calvert-Lewin poked a shot wide of the post from the edge of the box in the 74th minute.
In the meantime, both sides had made changes with Jake Wright replacing Cockerline and Taylor Pugh coming on for the visitors, in place of winger Joao Sousa.
Wright was involved pretty quickly, and he was unfortunate to see the ball hold up as the pitch became more waterlogged thanks to the horrendous conditions before forcing Sam Hawker into action with a low shot, winning the Blades a corner.
With 79 minutes gone, the home side added a seventh goal. CALVERT-LEWIN found space on the edge of the box, and once again spotted Hawker off his line to delightfully chip the ball into the net off the underside of the crossbar. A great way to complete his hat-trick and get the match ball…
Or so he thought, as Otis Khan beat a couple of Worcester defenders to play the ball wide to Jake Wright. His inch-perfect cross was met by JAKE EYRE, who also grabbed a hat-trick to fight over the match ball after poking home from six yards out.
Jake Eyre would come off injured shortly after, leaving the Blades playing the remaining 9 minutes with only ten men. This didn’t stop them from coming forward, and after Calvert-Lewin tried to get his fourth with a volley, United controlled possession and looked to run the clock down. After a long spell of keep-ball, the home side pressed forward and Calvert-Lewin spotted JASON PALING bursting forward from left back, who showed great composure to place the ball just inside the far post to give his side a nine goal lead in injury time.
This would be the very last kick of the game, as referee Mr. Bickle blew for full time before the exhausted visitors could restart. Despite the result, Worcester City deserved a lot of credit for not giving up and working hard to the final minute despite seeing very, very little of the ball.
The Blades are rewarded with a trip to the Reebok Stadium to face Bolton Wanderers, with a December date yet to be confirmed.
Sheffield United: Gareth Owen, Kyle Scarisbrick, Ioan Evans, Julian Banton, Jason Paling, Louis Reed (Ben Whiteman), Connor Dimaio, Joel Coustrain (Jake Eyre), Otis Khan, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Dan Cockerline ( Jake Wright).
Unused: Jake Eastwood, Elliot Ptak
Worcester City: Sam Hawker, Jack Brighton, Max Crisp (Harley Brewester), Luke Seldon, James Halsall (Macauley Finch), Aston Gunter, Dean Waldron, James Lemon, Luke Molloy, Joao Sousa (Taylor Pugh).
Unused: Charlie Downing, Haydn Morris