FAN REPORT: Comfortable Win for Blades

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SHEFFIELD United had no trouble in taking three points away from their weekend clash against Lancashire opponents Rochdale.

There is no real rivalry between the two sides and so Bramall Lane was relying wholly on the football to create some magic.

As seems to be the mould at Bramall Lane this season, Sheffield United score the majority of their goals in the second half of the match and very rarely find the net in the first.

But this was one of those few occasions where they do.

Neither side started the game with any cutting edge and the first half an hour of the match saw a lack of chances created by both sides, despite the occasional spark from Jean-Francois and Quinn down the left wing for the Blades.

Lescinel Jean-Francois, back to the starting eleven, showed signs of nerves later in the match but, going forward, the Frenchman had pace and awareness that would play an active role in United’s second.

Ched Evans has been in the best form of his Sheffield United career recently season and, in the 39th minute, the Welshman netted his 12th of the campaign in just 16 appearances.

Stephen Quinn found the clinical striker in acres of space after a slip from Rochdale’s Stephen Jordan - Evans finished emphatically.

All looked rosy inside Bramall Lane with half time just seconds away, before Rochdale’s goalkeeper David Lucas was knocked unconscious when he attempted to collect a cross.

There was immediately concern across Sheffield United and Rochdale players’ expressions as they gestured towards the bench to implicate the severity of Lucas’ situation and, whilst they waited for assistance, the players helped the goalkeeper into the recovery position.

When Lucas was finally taken from the field on a stretcher, there was barely a minute for United to test Rochdale’s replacement, Matty Edwards.

There were more goals to come from the second half though.

12 minutes after the restart, Richard Cresswell was on hand to double United’s lead after Jean-Francois and Quinn worked the ball cleverly down the left – Jean-Francois crafted a wonderful swinging cross into the path of the centre forward.

With the attention quite rightly with the Welshman, Cresswell has had to take a back-seat role in attack lately, after he made a terrific scoring start to the campaign himself – this goal his seventh of the season.

The game almost decided and United pressing forward for more, a third goal was to be expected sooner rather than later, and it came in style.

This time, Evans was gifted a chance from a dead-ball situation from outside the box and, apparently, he’s pretty good at those too.

The striker curled his shot round the wall and beyond the helpless Matty Edwards, who was probably wishing he’d never taken off his tracksuit.

There was still time for Danny Wilson to experiment with his set-up, as the game reached its conclusion; Kevin McDonald, Stephen Quinn and Richard Cresswell all made way for fresh legs.

McDonald, who has performed well consistently for the Blades at home this season, was replaced by Bramall Lane favourite Nick Montgomery, making what’s now a rare appearance for him given Wilson’s preference to Doyle in centre midfield.

At the final whistle, the Sheffield United boss could be very proud of his players and delighted with yet another home win, as the Blades continue their impressive record at The Lane.

By Sam Fletcher