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Sheffield United beat Bristol City in Heckingbottom's first game as permanent boss


Billy Sharp celebrates his goal against Bristol City
Veteran Sheffield United striker Billy Sharp scored his sixth goal of the season

Paul Heckingbottom’s tenure as Sheffield United boss got off to a winning start with a 2-0 victory over Bristol City at a snowy Bramall Lane.

Rhian Brewster’s low drilled shot from 15 yards out gave the hosts the lead just before half-time.

Veteran substitute Billy Sharp then got the Blades their second with two minutes of normal time remaining with a strike from close range, to secure the win.

Sheffield United have now won back-to-back games in the league for only the second time this season and move up four places to 13th in the Championship, with Bristol City three points and five places behind.

There was a lengthy stoppage in the second half as Robins centre-back Nathan Baker was stretchered off in a neck brace after a head injury, which resulted in 13 minutes of added time.

The former Aston Villa defender had only recently returned to the Bristol City side after suffering a concussion in their defeat at West Brom last month.

Sheffield United came into the match off the back of a turbulent week that saw manager Slavisa Jokanovic sacked after just six months in charge, following an underwhelming start to the season.

Heckingbottom, who was in caretaker charge of the Blades when they were relegated from the Premier League last season, was instantly installed and handed a four-and-a-half year deal on the same day.

The week also saw midfielder John Fleck hospitalised after he collapsed during Tuesday’s win over Reading. The Scotland international was discharged from hospital on Wednesday and in attendance at Bramall Lane for the match.

The Blades started brightest and caused Bristol City all kinds of problems, Wolves loanee Morgan Gibbs-White sending a low cross across the face of goal that Brewster could not quite get on the end of.

Brewster then twice saw shots go wide, while Jayden Bogle could not quite get his header on target after David McGoldrick made a break down the left wing.

The Robins were restricted and saw three players booked for time-wasting within the first 40 minutes. But they still created arguably the best chance of the first 45 minutes when Alex Scott’s corner picked out Chris Martin in the box, forcing a save from Wes Foderingham.

It was not long after the snow began to fall that Brewster broke the deadlock with his second goal in three games, getting on the end of an Enda Stevens pass to find the bottom corner.

Yet the hosts continued to have the majority of possession and chances. Gibbs-White sent a shot straight at Bristol City keeper Dan Bentley, John Egan sent a header wide and Sharp forced Bentley into another save.

City, limited to just two shots on target, had a golden opportunity to level the score when Antoine Semenyo played in Nahki Wells – who was unable to find the unmarked Weimann who was in acres of space – before Callum O’Dowda watched his cross ricochet off Basham and almost bounce in for an own goal.

Sharp, 35, then found Sheffield United a deserved second with 89 minutes on the clock as McGoldrick sent a cross flying into the box, which he slotted home for his sixth goal of the season.

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom told BBC Radio Sheffield:

“It was great to be out there, great to watch the lads put in the performances that they did and the fans to respond the way they did to the players.

“In difficult weather conditions, lots of stoppages in play for different reasons, the players kept their concentration and the drive and the fans responded.

“It was never ideal – you look at the weather conditions, how cold it is and we had a big long stoppage when Nathan [Baker] got a bad head injury – so we wish him well.”

Bristol City boss Nigel Pearson told BBC Radio Bristol:

“Whenever the game is 1-0 there are still going to be possibilities to get back into it. I think the first half we made too many really poor decisions in possession, we didn’t really get into the pace of it, didn’t win enough second balls.

“Their experience was something that I think was evident. Having said that, in the second half we tried to make some positive substitutions to give us an opportunity to get back in.

“I thought just the way that the weather was going, the balance of play I thought that they were opening us up anyway so to be overly defensive would have encouraged it even more. We thought it was better to go with attacking options.

“I’m very annoyed about the second goal because it is another poor mistake from us in terms of decision making and they score really when we’re in a position where we’ve got 18 minutes left and five attacking players on the pitch.”

Line-ups

Sheff Utd

Formation 3-4-2-1

  • 18Foderingham
  • 6Basham
  • 12Egan
  • 22DaviesBooked at 90mins
  • 20Bogle
  • 16NorwoodSubstituted forBergeat 90+1′minutes
  • 24HourihaneSubstituted forOsbornat 90+10′minutes
  • 3Stevens
  • 27Gibbs-WhiteBooked at 31mins
  • 17McGoldrick
  • 7BrewsterSubstituted forSharpat 69′minutesBooked at 78mins

Substitutes

  • 8Berge
  • 10Sharp
  • 14Burke
  • 19Robinson
  • 23Osborn
  • 29Ndiaye
  • 31Eastwood

Bristol City

Formation 3-5-2

  • 1BentleyBooked at 20mins
  • 26Vyner
  • 22Kalas
  • 17BakerSubstituted forAtkinsonat 62′minutes
  • 36Scott
  • 38BenarousSubstituted forWellsat 64′minutes
  • 15BakinsonSubstituted forSemenyoat 76′minutes
  • 42Massengo
  • 11O’DowdaBooked at 28mins
  • 14WeimannBooked at 84mins
  • 9MartinBooked at 39mins

Substitutes

  • 2Simpson
  • 3Dasilva
  • 5Atkinson
  • 12O’Leary
  • 16Pring
  • 18Semenyo
  • 21Wells

Referee:
Geoff Eltringham

Attendance:
25,615

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