Sheffield United 1-0 Brentford: Billy Sharp helps Blades win on Championship return
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 06/08/17 8:28pm
Sheffield United marked their return to the Sky Bet Championship with a 1-0 victory over Brentford at Bramall Lane.
Blades skipper Billy Sharp continued his fine goalscoring form from last season to head in the only goal of the game in the 39th minute, as United secured all three points.
The visitors' full-back Henrik Dalsgaard tested the United defence with an early cross. The Blades then threatened themselves, as Samir Carruthers and Sharp combined well to allow new-boy Enda Stevens to put in a teasing cross for Leon Clarke. Clarke could not quite connect, though, and his header drifted wide.
Brentford's highly sought-after forward Jota played some clever one-twos with Dalsgaard to work their way into the United box, but Richard Stearman, a new arrival at the Blades, cleared the danger just as Jota was pulling the trigger.
Jota continued to threaten the United defence, firstly playing a cute reverse pass to Lasse Vibe, who fluffed his lines before getting on the end of Ryan Woods' excellent through ball, but he also could not provide an end product.
Stevens, who arrived from Portsmouth this summer, then produced a spectacular long-range drive and saw his effort smack the post.
The home side stepped up a gear after the Stevens effort, causing panic in the Brentford box with two consecutive corners and Chris Basham had a penalty appeal waved away by referee Stephen Martin.
Clarke then produced his worst and finest work of the afternoon, firstly missing the ball in an attempt at goal before regaining his composure to deliver a looping cross which Sharp (39) powerfully headed past Daniel Bentley to give United the lead.
Clarke started the second half positively, powering his way past Rico Henry and put another cross straight onto Sharp's head. The Blades captain couldn't produce the same result though, with Bentley catching it comfortably.
United then had two goals ruled out for offside. Firstly, Clarke had a close-range effort ruled out before Sharp was denied a brace after he tapped in the rebound from John Fleck's driven free-kick. The Bees also saw Vibe have a goal disallowed for offside, after he headed in the rebound from Jota's curling effort.
Vibe should have brought the scores level when he was through on goal, but Kieron Freeman recovered quickly to make a vital tackle and keep the Denmark international off the score sheet.
Brentford had another shot at evening the scores as they countered from a corner quickly with Woods playing a great ball in behind for debutant Neal Maupay, but Jamal Blackman delighted the home fans once again by smothering his effort to hold onto his clean sheet.
Chris Wilder: "First and foremost I must talk about our support for the last six years. We've had it tough in this city, a football city as it is. That is a reward for the outstanding support, loyalty and love of their football club that they've shown through thick and thin.
"I've got to say, I thought that one [the atmosphere] was right up there today. Outstanding effort against a brilliant Brentford side. The roar that greeted us, the positivity allowed the players to lift their game at times when they were very, very tired. Sheff United fans, they deserved that result today.
Dean Smith: "A disappointing result, probably not what our performance deserved. I thought first half was a bit of a nothing game, it looked a little bit slow and the pitch slowed up.
"We didn't move the ball as quick as we normally do and I don't think they did either. There wasn't a lot of goalmouth action in the first half. I thought we had a couple of good chances. Billy Sharp's had one chance and scored but that's what he does."