James Shield's Big Match Ratings: How Sheffield United's players performed against Wigan Athletic
A Billy Sharp hat-trick and Chey Dunkley own goal saw Sheffield United return to the top of theÂ Championship following a 4-2 win over Wigan Athletic this afternoon. The Star's Bramall LaneÂ correspondent James Shield analyses how Chris Wilder's players performed.
Dean Henderson 8
For all of Wigan's early pressure, the goalkeeper remained relatively untroubled until Kai Naismith'sÂ equaliser. But, four minutes before United took the lead, he produced a fine save to tip a Gary Robert'sÂ free-kick over the crossbar. It was one of those "big moments" his manager likes to talk about. AnotherÂ came at 4-2 when he turned another set-piece, this time from Reece James, behind.
Enda Stevens 6
Did not see as much of the ball as Kieron Freeman but produced one excellent piece of play, soon afterÂ United had broken the deadlock, which could have resulted in a second goal. But rather than shoot, theÂ Republic of Ireland international tried to find his fellow wing-back and the pass was cut out.
Kieron Freeman 6
The wing-back's delivery caused Wigan problems and one cross, when United established a foothold inÂ the game, was nearly turned home by Billy Sharp who beat Christian Walton to the ball at the near post butÂ could not thread it through a crowd of legs.
Chris Basham 8
Was United's busiest player during the first-half as he not only defended but also helped out in attack. HisÂ overlapping runs have caused opponents all sorts of problems this season and, predictably, it was theÂ centre-half's cross which Chey Dunkley turned past Christian Walton to give the hosts the lead.
Richard Stearman 6
Drafted in to replace the injured John Egan, (the summer signing from Brentford is nursing a hamstringÂ complaint), Stearman went about his business with the minimum of fuss. Given Egan's fine start to theÂ season, United will have been pleased to be able to call upon someone with arguably even more experienceÂ than the player he was deputising for.Â
Jack O'Connell 7
Does not get forward as much as he did last season but still provides a real physical presence at the back.Â Spent the majority of the game marshalling Josh Windass who, as he proved so many times for RangersÂ before moving to the DW Stadium, has an eye for the big occasion. Hit the crossbar with a header from anÂ Oliver Norwood corner towards the end of the second-half.
Oliver Norwood 6
Was unable to impose himself on the game as much as either he or United would have liked. Wigan's shapeÂ and approach, flooiding forward through central midfield, were partly responsible for this. To his credit,Â Norwood kept trying to make things happen but was forced to focus on defensive shape rather thanÂ creating chances for long periods.Â
John Fleck 7
Uncharacteristically wasteful in possession during the very early skirmishes, Fleck quickly regained hisÂ composure and used the ball much more efficiently from there on in. Not a vintage performance from theÂ Scot by any stretch of the imagination but predictably aggressive, busy and reliable.Â
David McGoldrick 8
Despite being preferred at centre-forward in recent months, the former Ipswich Town attacker was handedÂ the task of deputising for the injured Mark Duffy. It was a call which underlined just how hard BenÂ Woodburn, the more obvious option, must work in order to gain a place in the team. Produced a lovelyÂ touch to release Fleck early on.
Billy Sharp 9
Looked refreshed after being left out of the starting eleven when Stoke City visited Bramall Lane onÂ Tuesday night. The United captain, regaining the armband from Leon Clarke, worked tirelessly to findÂ space or, by dragging defenders out of position, create it for others. Got his reward just before the breakÂ before going on to complete his hat-trick.
Leon Clarke 7
After scoring his first goal of the season four days earlier, this proved a frustrating afternoon for United'sÂ leading goalscorer last term. Few opportunities came his way, until forcing a good near post save early inÂ the second period. But, like Sharp, kept on working and covered plenty of ground, particularly when WiganÂ pushed forward. His assist for Sharp's second was excellent.
Substitutes: Paul Coutts (McGodrick, 61), Conor Washington (Sharp, 88).
Not used: Simon Moore, George Baldock, Martin Cranie, Marvin Johnson, Ben Woodburn.