SHEFFIELD UNITED marched on to tomorrow’s FA Cup draw after overcoming non-league Salisbury at Bramall Lane.
United’s well-documented financial situation, combined with Danny Wilson’s fiercely competitive streak, had prompted him to view progress in the knockout competitions as one of his main priorities this term.
Reportedly furious when his players surrendered their place in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy last year, Wilson is adamant that the rewards a plumb tie against one of English football’s big guns would bring means it is worth chasing success on more than one front.
With The Kop closed for business, the romance of the cup had clearly failed to stoke the United supporters’ ardour.
But with nearly 2,000 of Salisbury’s followers making the long journey from Wiltshire, (they mustered just 150 for a recent trip to Dorchester), it had clearly been embraced by fans of Darrell Clarke’s club.
United went in front when Williamson and PORTER produced a moment of real quality. A peach of a pass from deep sent the former Derby County striker scampering through and, having waited for Scott to commit, he stroked the ball home in cool, calm fashion.
Be it the subdued atmosphere inside the stadium or the sheer weight of possession they had enjoyed, but carelessness had seeped into United’s play just before the interval.
They were nearly made to pay at the start of the second-half when Marvin Williams, whose searing turn of pace made him a constant threat throughout the match, dashed down the flank only to overrun the ball.
Webb followed Williamson into the referee’s notebook following a robust challenge on Beattie who was involved in the untidy 60th minute scramble which ended in EVANS doubling United’s lead.
Scott saved Jean-Francois’ low shot after it brushed-off Beattie and when McDonald, who had set in motion the chain of events with a classy pass, also tried his luck, the Salisbury goalkeeper was wrong-footed when the ball cannoned off the Wales international.
Beattie, whose entrance was again celebrated by the home crowd, nearly squeezed the ball home at the near post as United rediscovered their poise.
But Salisbury, to manager Clarke’s credit, acquitted themselves with the utmost dedication and professionalism. United’s third goal - which saw WEBB inadvertently turn Evans’ 72nd minute cross into his own net - was cruel. Even though it meant the scoreline did reflect United’s dominance.
Knight replaced Fitchett for Salisbury soon after with substitute MACKLIN drilling home their 86th minute consolation from distance.