Che Adams shrugged-off speculation about his future at Bramall Lane by scoring a well-taken goal as Sheffield United concluded their preparations for the new League One season by beating Handworth Parramore.
But the visitors, who rejected a second bid from Birmingham City for their England youth international earlier in the day, were forced to come from behind after Jon Froggatt handed their non-league opponents a dream start at Sandy Lane.
Stefan Scougall and David Brooks also pounced for Chris Wilder’s team while Leon Clarke was on target for the first time since arriving from Bury. Scougall further pressed his case for a place in the squad which faces Bolton Wanderers next weekend by claiming his second and United’s fifth on the stroke of full-time.
“Thought it was a really good work out for us,” Wilder said. “It’s important to have good relationships with the local clubs and more of the lads got some time under their belts. The lads showed a good attitude and got the maximum out of the game.”
Froggatt, the grandson of former Sheffield Wednesday and England forward Redfern, had earlier fired the NCEL Premier Division side into a shock lead before Scougall quickly equalised. An game of attack versus defence duly ensued although United, resting the likes of Matt Done and Billy Sharp, failed to plot a course through the massed ranks of Parramore’s rearguard until the second period.
The pattern of play meant that Chelsea centre-half Alex Davey, who has joined Wilder’s squad on trial, enjoyed few opportunities to prove his worth. Not so Parramore’s Joe Green who excelled between the posts for Mick Godber’s side although he was powerless to prevent Adams, Brooks and Clarke ensuring the result reflected United’s dominance.
Some managers might view the final match of their team’s warm-up programme as an exercise in getting minutes under the belt and avoiding injuries. But Wilder’s combative streak, combined with Froggatt’s third minute goal for Parramore, ensured this contest was always going to have an edge.
Clarke, making his second appearance for United after arriving at Bramall Lane earlier in the week, nearly scored with the first move of the evening but Connor Smythe intercepted as he prepared to pull the trigger. Then, Paul Coutts danced down the flank before drilling a low centre across the six yard box.
Parramore sent their supporters - and probably United’s too - reaching for the smelling salts when Froggatt converted Conor Higginson’s cross unmarked at the far post. But Scougall’s effort, after Green had saved well from Clarke, ensured Parramore’s lead last for only six minutes. And, from that moment on, normal service resumed as United dominated in terms of territory and possession.
Although Wilder will not have been impressed that it took them another three-quarters-of-an-hour to break Parramore’s dogged resolve, Green was not complaining as he showcased his talents by making another superb block. Clarke combined well with Kieron Freeman before finding Che Adams lurking on the edge of the six yard box. The England youth international’s volley seemed certain to find the back of the net until Green’s fingertips diverted the ball just over the crossbar.
Adams, though, was not to be denied and in the 56th minute he pounced on a rare Parramore lapse to edge United in front. Brooks extended their lead four minutes later. Clarke struck in the 72nd minute with a delightful strike before Scougall followed suit.
“Attitude was the biggest thing we looked for out there,” Wilder said. “And I thought the lads showed plenty.”
Handsworth Parramore: Green (Sneath 79), Harrison, Smythe, Claisse (Bamforth 73), Starosta, Griffiths, Higginson (Rippon 57), Warne (Lee 88), Froggatt (White 66), Wells (Holland 51), Dugdale (Buttle 60). Not used: Bates, Sneath, Jameson.
Sheffield United: Long, Freeman, K Wallace, J Wright snr, Davey, Reid (Whiteman 46), Coutts, Adams, Scougall, McNulty (Brooks 46), Clarke (Gordon 80). Not used: Ramsdale, Semple, J Wright jnr.
Referee: Lee Freeman.