CHED Evans fired a 15-minute hat-trick as Sheffield United reclaimed second spot in League One with a 4-1 victory over Chesterfield at Bramall Lane, writes Ricky Charlesworth.
The Welsh striker took his tally for the campaign to 30 goals as Danny Wilson’s men moved two points clear of rivals Sheffield Wednesday.
The result leaves Chesterfield nine points from safety with just seven games remaining.
Blades boss Wilson had made one change to the side which hammered Notts County 5-2 last week.
Harry Maguire sat out the game with a virus and in came Marcus Williams.
For the Spireites, John Sheridan made two changes to the team which started the JP Trophy final on Sunday.
Jack Lester (groin) and Simon Ford (knee) bowed out and in came Wembley match-winner Craig Westcarr and Neal Trotman.
In a game of real significance for both sides, it was United who produced the first effort on goal.
Ched Evans blazed over from outside the area in what was an early warning shot from the hosts.
The Blades slowly but surely built momentum and another effort, this time from Richard Cresswell, produced a good save from Tommy Lee before Stephen Quinn fired the rebound over.
Chesterfield produced a rare chance of their own shortly after, when Josh Thompson stabbed an effort goal-bound only to see Steve Simonsen produce a smart save.
When the breakthrough came, it was the Blades who got it. Lee Williamson volleyed past Lee from six yards after good work from Evans to chest the ball down for him. It was Williamson’s tenth goal of a prolific campaign.
The hosts’ joy was short-lived however. Franck Moussa drove at the Blades’ defence before rifling past Simonsen just six minutes later, to send the sides in level at the break.
After the break, United restored their lead from the penalty spot.
Spireites’ winger Noel Mendy was adjudged to have fouled Evans in the box and despite protests from the visitors, Evans stepped up to blast home his 28th of the season.
The in-form striker then added his second of the night on the hour mark. Williamson floated in a free-kick and Evans slotted past Lee to make it 3-1. He then proceeded to cannon an effort of a post before his hat-trick was finally achieved moments later.
Evans notched number 30 for the season after a good finish into the top corner of the goal, after which there was no comeback for the flattened Spireites.
SHEFFIELD UNITED: Simonsen, Lowton, Doyle, Evans, Williamson, Collins, Cresswell, McDonald, Quinn, Williams, Hill. Not used: Hoskins, Beattie, Howard, Egan, O’Halloran.
CHESTERFIELD: Lee, Trotman, Thompson, Allott, Westcarr, Mendy, Hurst, Bowery, Talbot, Smith, Moussa. Not used: Whitaker, Ajose, Ridehalgh, Boden, Randall.
REFEREE: S Hooper.
Read James Shield’s assessment in Thursday’s Star.
And send us your views on the way the top of League One is shaping up.