Chris Wilder got off to a winning start as Sheffield United boss with a resounding victory over local side Stocksbridge Park Steels, 1665 were in attendance at Bracken Moor for the pre-season opener against the Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division side.
The new gaffer, choosing to cast his eye over a large proportion of the squad during his first 90 minutes on the touchline, named two separate XI’s including a first half run out for triallist Conor Shaughnessy.
The Blades got the game under-way and it became clear early doors as to Wilder’s intentions, regularly encouraging his side to “move the ball quicker” and press onto the hosts, it was the hosts however who had the first meaningful opportunity with United keeper Ramsdale smothering the ball as he kept out the first effort of the game.
United began to take control and, as instructed by their new management team, played with a pace and eagerness.
Dom Calvert-Lewin had a go from the edge of the box, his shot deflected into the keepers hands shortly before the same man looked to play a busy Marc McNulty through on goal. The Steels keeper was out quickly and bravely to take the ball off the strikers feet.
The pair linked up again shortly after, with a beautiful ball played by Calvert-Lewin. McNulty, seeing the keeper off his line, went for the audacious and was disappointed to see his lob end up on the roof of the net.
It didn’t take much longer for the Blades side to open the scoring, with Matty Done on hand to apply a left footed volley from new man Chris Hussey’s deep cross on the 20 minute mark, leaving the keeper with no chance .
Done, playing in a more advanced role than at the end of last season, had the keeper scrambling again minutes later with a powerful effort producing a great save from the Steels keeper.
United doubled their advantage with another move originating from the left, Wallace played the ball to Reed on the left hand side whose first touch took his marker out of the game before squaring the ball for Marc McNulty to tap home at the back post.
Five minutes before half time, the Blades were celebrating again with Matty Done scoring from long range. The United man hit a speculative shot from 25 yards, the ball moving in the air and deceiving the Steels keeper who looked to be right behind it.
There was just enough time for the first half XI to cap a good 45 minutes, with Ben Whiteman doing well to touch through to Marc McNulty who calmly rounded the goalkeeper and put the ball into the roof of the net.
Wilder’s half time team talk was surely an easy one, asking the second half XI to try and better the first 45. In truth, the second half was a scrappier affair, with the Blades looking a little slower and less coherent after the break.
United were to add to their goal tally however, with Che Adams putting the ball into the back of the net from Mark Duffy’s cut back to the penalty spot.
Stocksbridge had a couple of chances, winning two free kicks just outside the area, but the wall stood tall on both occasions, leaving keeper Eastwood untroubled.
Duffy was starting to get on the ball and cause some trouble, with a cross nodded clear by an opposition defender, a header on target himself and then a cross come shot which caught out the keeper and rebounded off the crossbar.
Billy Sharp and David Brooks both had efforts from the edge of the area, with Scougall and Adams both having half chances, but whilst not really troubled, the Blades were making fewer opportunities than the first half and the game concluded without further action.
Sheffield United 1st Half: Ramsdale, Brayford, Hussey, O’Connell, Shaughnessy, Reed, Whiteman, Wallace J, Calvert-Lewin, Done, McNulty
Sheffield United 2nd Half: Eastwood, Freeman, Wallace K, Wilson, Semple, Brooks, Scougall, Basham, Duffy, Adams, Sharp