Jose Baxter’s calm penalty ten minutes from time put the finishing touch on Sheffield United’s comfortable win over Colchester at Bramall Lane this evening.
Baxter confidently converted past Sam Walker after Paul Coutts had been dragged back in the area by Matt Briggs, for his second of the game.
Baxter had earlier put United 1-0 up before debutant Matt Done made it 2-0. Jay McEveley’s long-range strike made it 3-0 before Sammie Szmodics reduced the arrears.
Done, the former Rochdale man, was taken off to a standing ovation after an impressive debut, capped by a composed finish to put his new side 2-0 ahead in front of 17,162 at Bramall Lane.
Done then had the ball in the net a second time, but the goal was correctly ruled out for a handball in the second half.
Loanee Jason Holt was given a United debut minutes after McEveley’s stunning strike, replacing Campbell-Ryce. Done was one of four changes from the defeat to Gillingham last weekend as Jamal Campbell-Ryce and Michael Doyle also come into the side, with Louis Reed, Ben Davies and Che Adams dropping out. Iain Turner was a late replacement for goalkeeper Mark Howard, who was included on the pre-match teamsheet - and even introduced by Bramall Lane announcer Gary Sinclair - but didn’t take to the field after suffering a back injury in the pre-match warm up.
Turner didn’t show any signs of rustiness in the opening few minutes and had to be alert to prevent Colchester taking an early lead, poking away Sammie Szmodics’ goalbound effort.
Chris Porter, formerly of this parish, was denied a fairytale return to Bramall Lane when his shot was turned away for a corner by Turner.
Then Jamie Murphy, after exchanging passes with Baxter, sent a curling shot wide - with the offside flag was raised anyway.
Late on, both McEveley and Chris Basham combined to spare Turner’s blushes as the goalkeeper dropped a routine cross - on an otherwise routine evening for United, who returned to the top six.
SHEFFIELD UNITED: Turner, Harris, Brayford, Basham, Doyle, Murphy, Baxter, Done, Coutts, McEveley, Campbell-Ryce. Subs: McNulty, Davies, Reed, Willis, Kennedy, Adams, Holt.
COLCHESTER UNITED: Walker, Wynter, Gordon, Briggs, Eastman, Clohessy, Massey, Szmodics, Lapslie, Fox, Porter. Subs: Watt, Marriott, Lewington, Vincent-Young, McEvoy, Bonne, Semble-Ferris.
REFEREE: Christopher Sarginson (Staffordshire),