Sheffield United 2-0 Bolton Wanderers

  • February 25, 2017 | By Chris Mann
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Billy Sharp hushed the travelling Bolton fans, as his brace gave Sheffield United a 2-0 victory over Wanderers at Bramall Lane.

Sharp, a subject of debate throughout the week amongst supporters of both clubs, put the Blades ahead inside 12 minutes in this top-of-the-table clash, breaking free from the visiting defence before slotting past Mark Howard.

He added a second 20 minutes from time, firing home from the penalty spot after David Wheater had upended Samir Carruthers, giving his side a win that puts them seven points clear at the summit of League One - 10 points above the 4th-placed Trotters.

Pre-match attention at Bramall Lane was focused on Gary Madine, following comments made about Sharp which surfaced on social media through the week.

Madine arrived at the stadium with the rest of the Wanderers players but was surprisingly left out of the matchday squad, with illness cited as the reason why.

His absence was one of three changes to the side that started at Bradford City last time out, with Ben Alnwick, himself suffering from a virus, and Liam Trotter dropping to the substitutes' bench. The trio to replace them were James Henry, Conor Wilkinson and former Blades goalkeeper Howard.

After a tepid start to the game, it was the hosts who created the first shooting chance and it arrived on eight minutes as a deflected shot from Paul Coutts went behind.

James Hanson directed a header at goal from the resulting corner, but Dean Moxey was well placed to clear the goalbound effort off the line and to safety.

Bolton responded well and forced Simon Moore into his first save moments later, with Henry's long-range attempt simple gathering for the United goalkeeper.

Then, with 12 minutes played, Sheffield United took the lead as the division's leading goalscorer made it 22 for the season.

Neat play from Mark Duffy and John Fleck resulted in Sharp being put in the clear. With Mark Beevers closing in, Sharp decided to shoot early and got the better of Howard, finding the net via the inside of the far post.

Aside from Fleck going into the book for a strong challenge on Tom Thorpe, there was little action to report until shortly before the half-hour, when Adam Le Fondre, who was giving possession back to United following a stoppage, just missed the target with a wayward pass.

Wanderers were forced into their first change on 44 minutes, with Thorpe unable to continue following his earlier collision with Fleck. On in his place was Dorian Dervite, who, by taking to the field, was making his first appearance of the season.

The visitors had one last chance to draw level before the break, but Filipe Morais hit the wall with a free-kick as Phil Parkinson's side went in behind at the interval.

There were no further changes to either side at the start of the second period, which began with United firing a warning shot as Sharp scuffed a shot wide of the target following a knockdown from James Hanson.

Sharp was involved again moments later, as he found himself on the receiving end of a challenge from Wilkinson that earned the Wanderers forward a yellow card.

A thorn in the side of the visitors, Sharp was the key man once more as the clock reached the hour. This time he found space in the box and glanced a header towards goal, only to be thwarted by an outstanding reflex save from Howard.

Clearly failing to halt the threat of the league leaders, Bolton then made two changes within moments of each other - with Chris Long and Max Clayton replacing the ineffective front line of Le Fondre and Wilkinson.

Any attacking impetus was short-lived, however, as Carruthers, himself on as a substitute for United, went down under a challenge from Wheater and earned his side a penalty. Wheater protested his innocence to referee Mike Dean, talking himself into a booking from the official.

Sharp took responsibility for the spot-kick and made no mistake, firing past Howard to double the hosts' advantage and effectively kill the game as a contest.

Carruthers shot into the side-netting as the Blades went in search of a third, while frustration got the better of Derik Osede with 10 minutes to play as he joined both Wilkinson and Wheater in the book for dissent.

Clayton looked to provide Wanderers with a route back into the game three minutes from time, only to see his strike charged down by Jake Wright, and that was as threatening as it would get for the hosts, who crashed to defeat without much resistance.

Defeat on the road sees Bolton drop to 4th in the League One table - their lowest position since November. Despite that, they remain just three points shy of the automatic promotion places with a game in hand on 2nd-placed Scunthorpe United.

Parkinson's side return to action on Tuesday, when Bristol Rovers, who drew 1-1 with Scunthorpe on Saturday, are the visitors to Macron Stadium.

Sheffield United: Moore, Basham, Wright, O'Connell, Freeman, Duffy (Carruthers 63), Coutts, Fleck, Lafferty, Sharp (Ebanks-Landell 90+4), Hanson
Subs Not Used: Long, Lavery, Done, Wilson, O'Shea
Booked: Fleck
Goals: Sharp 12,70(pen)

Bolton Wanderers: Howard, Moxey, Beevers, Wheater, Osede, Thorpe (Dervite 44), Vela, Morais, Henry, Le Fondre (Long 62), Wilkinson (Clayton 66)
Subs Not Used: Alnwick, Solomon-Otabor, Trotter, Wabara
Booked: Wilkinson, Wheater, Osede

Referee: Mike Dean
Attendance: 27,165

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
1 Accrington Stanley 0 0
2 Barnsley 0 0
3 Bolton Wanderers 0 0
4 Bristol Rovers 0 0
5 Burton Albion 0 0
View Full Standings >>


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