Sheffield United 2-1 Reading: Blades win again
By Press Association
Last Updated: 21/10/17 6:31pm
High-flying Sheffield United made it four wins out of their last five games with a 2-1 victory over Reading.
Paul Coutts and Billy Sharp put the hosts 2-0 up at the interval with Roy Beerens pulling a goal back for Reading late on.
Reading's Mo Barrow had an early shot deflected wide after finding some space on the right-hand side of the area. The hosts then began to put Jaap Stam's men under pressure with their first chance falling to Leon Clarke, whose near post shot was deflected wide after he connected with a low cross from Enda Stevens.
Clarke had a hand in the opening goal when his shot was cleared only as far as Coutts (19), who fired into the roof of the net from 20 yards out. United increased their lead in the 37th minute when Mark Duffy broke free on the right-hand side of the area and his ball across the face of goal was tapped in by Sharp from close range.
Beerens tried a low shot from distance and the ball rolled narrowly wide of Jamal Blackman's right-hand post. Visiting keeper Vito Mannone came to his side's rescue with a fine reaction save to keep out Sharp's close-range header following Duffy's free-kick.
With Reading largely kept at bay, Tiago Ilori tried his luck from distance but his effort went well wide. Substitute Paul McShane had a much better effort, heading just wide after meeting Chris Gunter's cross.
United substitute David Brooks, who signed an extended contract in the week, threatened to race clear when he received the ball from Clarke, but Ilori made a timely interception, stretching out a leg to clear.
Stam made three changes to his line-up in the second half with John Swift and Pelle Clement also joining the action and the trio helped inspire an improved display. Beerens (85) scored to set up an interesting finish, sweeping the ball home after being set up by Barrow.
Clarke had a chance to kill the game off in stoppage time when he received a long ball and advanced into the area, but Mannone came out to narrowly the angle and stood tall, blocking the striker's shot.
Chris Wilder: "It was very satisfying. We overcame stubborn opposition, especially at the end, but I thought we were full value for our result. The first half performance was up there with one of the best that we've produced all season. We were pretty comfortable after half-time and tried to get a third goal but unfortunately we conceded and gave them a big lift.
"I thought they were only in the game for the last 10 minutes and a little bit at the death, with what the referee put on. The key is that you see it out. We want to get up the pitch, but sometimes you can't and you do get pushed back. It's important that you stay solid and tight as a unit, which we did. We know there is a hell of a long way to go. We're delighted and we're enjoying the ride."
Jaap Stam: "It was disappointing because we didn't play in the first half how we should do. If you don't do that, you're making it difficult for yourself and a bit easier for the opposition. We knew that we were going to be facing a good team and a team in form, playing in a certain way, with a lot of movement if you give them time.
"If you don't do anything about that, they get into their rhythm and they can make it difficult for you. That is what happened, especially in the first half. They scored two good goals and we couldn't go forward because we weren't taking the initiative on the ball."