Result Sheffield United 1 Fleetwood Town 2 - Blades suffer second successive home defeat

Matt Done puts United back into the game. Photo: Martyn Harrison
Matt Done puts United back into the game. Photo: Martyn Harrison

Sheffield United made their intentions clear when Nigel Clough scribbled his team sheet.

With Steven Davies, Matt Done and Jamie Murphy featuring in a three-pronged attack, the former England international had clearly instructed his side to apply pressure straight from kick-off.

They obliged with Davies, signed on loan from Blackpool 24 hours earlier, stooping to head over the Scot’s sixth minute cross before electing to shoot rather than square for Done.

Inevitably, with their partnership at the embryonic stage, the lines of communication between United’s new-look strike-force were not always crystal clear. But the two men combined to punch a hole in the visitors’ rearguard soon after before the ball, agonisingly for Davies, bobbled out of play.

Fleetwood Town, whose rise through the divisions is real Roy of the Rovers stuff, found the early going tough.

Especially when Stephen Jordan was forced to limp-off in the 11th minute with Nathan Pond replacing him in defence.

Jose Baxter clearly enjoyed being let off the leash following suspension. The self-confessed football nut was seeing plenty of possession and, midway through the half, produced an excellent cameo after intercepting an errant pass.

Ghosting into space and then past a marker, he made his way towards the edge of the box before unleashing a vicious shot which flew just over the crossbar.

Then, out of nothing, Fleetwood Town took a 26th minute lead.

Jamie Proctor laid the ball off for josh morris, who from an acute angle, drove home beyond Iain Turner.

It was an excellent finish but not one which Clough could really admire.

A Baxter corner present United with an opportunity to restore parity but although Paul Coutts pounced on a scrambled clearance, he could not keep his volley down.

Nine minutes after Morris’ opener, NICK HAUGHTON doubled Fleetwood Town’s lead when he lashed home the rebound from his own free-kick. On this occasion, it provoked an immediate response when Basham, who moments earlier had collected his 10th caution of the season, helped on Baxter’s 39th minute centre which allowed MATTHEW DONE to bundle home.

Jay McEveley produced a superb recovery to deny Proctor a clear run on goal as gaps began to appear in both backlines before being booked for a foul.

With Basham poised to begin a ban, United hearts were in their mouths when McEveley went down clutching his shoulder at the start of the second-half. Craig Alcock was stripped and ready for action but the Liverpudlian, after a brief consultation with coaching staff, insisted he could carry on.

Baxter let rip with another powerful shot when play restarted but the ball struck an unwitting Done.

Then Murphy went surging down the flank to win a 51st minute corner in front of The Kop.

Chris Maxwell, however, gathered the ball. Soon after, with 35 minutes of normal time remaining, he received a yellow card for time-wasting after taking an age over a goal-kick.

Maxwell flapped at a Murphy centre soon after but, when the ball was recycled, Baxter’s effort was blocked.

Stuart Murdoch was cautioned for a wild lunge on Brayford. United were dominating possession but, as they pushed men forward, appeared as if they could be vulnerable on the counter-attack.

In the 64th minute, Murphy impored referee Darren Deadman to award him a penalty after appearing to be upended just inside the box. The official, however, insisted the Fleetwood Town defender had won the ball cleanly and signalled for a corner instead.

In txhe 69th minute, United decided a change of approach was required. Baxter was withdrawn and Che Adams entered the fray. But it was Doyle, as McEveley continued to struggle with his shoulder, who came closest to restoring parity when, in the 76th minute, he saw a close-range effort tipped over for the second time this afternoon.

Fleetwood Town introduced Stephen Dobbie for Haughton moments later before United made a change of their own with Marc McNulty replacing Davies.

The visitors made their third and final change when Stephen Crainey came on for Morris. United, in the 87th minute followed suit with Kieran Wallace and Bob Harris exchanging places.

But the score remained the same and, as the final whistle blew, boos echoed around threee-quarters of Bramall Lane.

SHEFFIELD UNITED: Turner, Harris, Brayford, Basham, Doyle, Murphy, Baxter, Done, Coutts, McEveley, S Davies. Substitutes: Alcock, McNulty, Willis, B Davies, Reed, Adams, K Wallace.

FLEETWOOD TOWN: Maxwell, McLaughlin, Murdoch, Roberts, Evans, Schumacher, Morris, Chicksen, Proctor, Jordan, Haughton. Not used: Pond, Dobbie, Ball, McAlinden, Hunter, Crainey, Springthorpe.

REFEREE: Darren Deadman (Cambridgeshire).

* United’s Under-18s beat their counterparts from Sheffield Wednesday 3-2 today thanks to goals from Daniel Cockerline and Dominic Calvert-Lewin (2).