Sheffield United 1-0 Barnsley: Billy Sharp hits winner as both sides finish with 10 men
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 20/08/17 8:09pm
Sheffield United made it nine home wins in a row as they claimed local bragging rights with a 1-0 victory over South Yorkshire rivals Barnsley in the Sky Bet Championship at Bramall Lane.
Billy Sharp's first-half goal - his 20th in his last 29 appearances - gave the Blades their second three points of the season, though it could have been a far more handsome victory for Chris Wilder's men.
Sharp, David Brooks and Jack O'Connell all could have added to the scoreline, but as it was United still kept up their string of home success, going back to a League One draw with Scunthorpe in February.
Both sides played the second half with 10 men after Leon Clarke and Angus MacDonald were sent off for an ugly spat. Barnsley never really threatened to get back into the match, suffering their third loss from four league games this season.
There was a raucous atmosphere in Bramall Lane for the first South Yorkshire derby of the season and it was United who made the most of home advantage. They came close to taking the lead in just the fifth minute when the industrious Enda Stevens cut back for Sharp but his effort was drilled straight at Barnsley goalkeeper Adam Davies.
That move served as a dress rehearsal for the one that saw the Blades take a worthy 17th-minute lead. Fed by John Fleck, Stevens again got in down the left and his cut-back found Sharp, who this time made no mistake from 12 yards, firing home for his second match-winning goal of the campaign.
After a period of inactivity there was a flashpoint just before half-time that saw both sides reduced to 10 men. Clarke and MacDonald tussled for the ball in the Barnsley penalty area and that escalated into something more serious as United striker Clarke appeared to grab his opponent by the throat, with MacDonald retaliating by moving his head towards Clarke. As a result both men received their marching orders after referee Tim Robinson conferred with his linesman.
The game took on an end-to-end nature after the restart and both sides had early chances. Barnsley, who switched to two up front, could have equalised but Brad Potts' goal-bound shot was bravely blocked by Jake Wright while Sharp might have doubled his tally but he could not convert Chris Basham's cross at the far post.
The longer it went on, though, the more dominant United became and they had a number of great opportunities to put the game to bed. Substitute Brooks thought he had made it 2-0 but his low shot from Stevens' cross hit the feet of Davies, rolled along the line and then struck the post. O'Connell then brought a flying save out of Davies with a header from a corner and Brooks again tested the Reds stopper.
A stern defence at the other end snuffed out any hopes of a Barnsley equaliser as the Blades were again left to enjoy some home comforts.
Chris Wilder: "We played well today, we needed to be a little bit more positive in the final third after the last two games. We needed to be better in the final third today and I thought we did that. We are a little bit disappointed we have not put the game to bed.
"The slight criticism of my team is that we didn't put them to bed, I thought we played some really good stuff. We are used to winning and whatever it takes to win a game of football we need to do. The attitude is without doubt unquestionable and the enthusiasm to go and get a result for this football club is great. It was important today to get back to winning ways."
Paul Heckingbottom: "It was disappointing. Compared to the last two performances it was chalk and cheese. The players know that. We started on the back foot and it was a game too far for us.
"It was a first derby for a lot of them, the first time we played three times in a week, I need to learn about these players. There wasn't many who came out with positives today. That's how every game is for us. It's no different to the last game when we won, I am always learning. That's what happens when you take players from the lower leagues."