Report: Chesterfield 1 Sheffield United 4

John Fleck celebrates his goal against Chesterfield

John Fleck celebrates his goal against Chesterfield

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Sheffield United climbed to third in the League One table after dismantling Chesterfield during an explosive second-half display.

The pre-match hype was all about whether Ched Evans would score against Chris Wilder's side after returning to the game earlier this year. The post-match talking points, though, focused on the South Yorkshire clubs firepower as strikes from Kieron Freeman, John Fleck, Billy Sharp and Leon Clarke saw them run riot.

Ched Evans hits a free-kick at the Sheffield United wall

Ched Evans hits a free-kick at the Sheffield United wall

Danny Wilson, who had earlier seen Jon Nolan give the hosts a deserved lead, looked crestfallen when the full-time whistle blew.

Wilder, by contrast, jubilantly joined his side as they saluted the away supporters afterwards.

Chesterfield had entered this contest searching for their first goal in the competition since September's draw with Gillingham. Some serious sluggishness on United's part ensured they waited less than two minutes to claim one here. A neat interchange with Evans saw Nolan burst through the visitors' ranks before the former Grimsby Town midfielder beat Simon Moore.

Wilson, the Chesterfield manager, withdrew Evans midway through the second peiod after he had twice been denied by Moore. In between those blocks, though, Freeman turned home John Fleck's centre before two goals in the space of 60 seconds put the contest to bed.

Having already provided an an assist, Fleck edged Wilder's men ahead with a clinish finish. Sharp extended their advantage after meeting Mark Duffy's delayed pass.

Clarke got in on the act with a lovely shot which left poor Ryan Fulton grasping at thin air.

The scoreline, which stretches United's unbeaten league run to 12 games, seemed improbably at one stage.

But it revealed much about the tenacity, convinction and character which exists within Wilder's squad.

There were no surprises in the respective starting elevens. But there was an early surprise when Chesterfield, who began the afternoon propping-up the rest of the table, took a second minute lead.

United, 20 places higher in fourth, have made a habit of seizing control of fixtures in recent weeks. Much to Wilder's disgust, it was one they appeared to have kicked here. Sloppy in possession and seemingly distracted off the ball, Wilson's men had already threatened to break the deadlock on two occasions before Nolan's near post shot handed them the lead. Chesterfield continued to look the more dangerous until a flurry of 17th minute corners saw United wrestle back control.

But Daniel Lafferty, firing straight at Fulton following Sharp's through ball, and Matt Done both spurned good chances to level.

Predictably, Evans seemed particularly fired-up and was fortunate to escape an early caution after catching both Fleck and Moore late. As Wilder barked orders from the technical area, Wilson watched the action unfold with a great deal of satisfaction. Chesterfield, a few notable exceptions apart, had been sharper, brighter and more penetrating.

It did not last.

Sharp's sliced wide on the turn just before the half hour mark as United began to find some rhythm. Lafferty drove the ball over the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area after Paul Coutts had edged the visitors forward. Mark Duffy also tried his luck from distance when Chesterfield, having seen possession worked around the penalty area, refused to commit themselves and Fulton gathered comfortably. The goalkeeper did so again in the 38th minute after a ricochet off a defender had taken the power off another attempt from Sharp.

The opening exchanges of the second-half passed without incident. Which suited Wilson and Chesterfield just fine.

Then, in the 51st minute, these two rivals traded good chances. First, Evans' angled effort drew a smart save from Moore. Then, Sharp burrowed his way through a crowd on the edge of the six yard box only to be denied by Fulton at the foot of the near post. There was, however, a greater sense of urgency if not quality in United's play. In the 54th minute, it reaped dividends when Freeman bundled home Fleck's cross. Straight from the restart. Sharp netted for the 11th time this season.

Chesterfield's heads were still spinning when, in the 82nd minute, substitute Clarke hit the target for the second time in two outings.

Chesterfield: Fulton, Liddle, Evatt, Evans (Dennis 66), O'Neil, Dimaio, Nolan (Humphreys 69), Donohue, Anderson, O'Shea, Ariyibi. Not used: Mitchell, Dennis, Allinson, Simons, Maguire, German.

Sheffield United: Moore, Fleck, Basham, Sharp (Lavery 89), Done, Wright (Clarke 67), Coutts, Freeman, Ebanks-Landell, Duffy, Lafferty. Not used: Long, O'Connell, Scougall, Brown, Whiteman.

Referee: Christopher Sarginson (Staffordshire).

Attendance: 8451

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