Sheffield United Match Report: Boss Clough’s Grand Rebuke at York

Neill Collins beats York's Ryan Jarvis in the air
Neill Collins beats York's Ryan Jarvis in the air
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Two injuries, a pair of cheaply conceded goals and one very unhappy manager.

That, as Nigel Clough acknowledged afterwards, was the story of Sheffield United’s final pre-season friendly ahead of the new League One campaign.

York City v Sheffield United 2.8.14' Pic : Martyn Harrison'Ryan Jarvis  - York puts the 2ND GOAL past Sheffield United Mark Howard''� copyright :  BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

York City v Sheffield United 2.8.14' Pic : Martyn Harrison'Ryan Jarvis - York puts the 2ND GOAL past Sheffield United Mark Howard''� copyright : BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

But, while the ease with which York City’s Ryan Jarvis was able to claim a second-half brace grated among the visiting coaching staff, it was the sight of Jose Baxter and James Wallace being forced to retire before the interval through injury which really soured their mood.

Although Clough, whose side embarks upon its latest push for promotion in just five days time, revealed both had been withdrawn as a precautionary measure, he conceded it was still too early to predict with any degree of certainty whether they will be available for selection against Bristol City this weekend.

“We told all of the lads beforehand to let us know if they felt anything because we didn’t want to take any risks,” he said.

“Jose had a little bit of discomfort for a moment in his calf muscle and so we brought him off straight away.

York City v Sheffield United 2.8.14' Pic : Martyn Harrison' Cameron Murray - York & Harrison McGahey -  Sheffield United''� copyright :  BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

York City v Sheffield United 2.8.14' Pic : Martyn Harrison' Cameron Murray - York & Harrison McGahey - Sheffield United''� copyright : BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

“The same also went for James when he told us he’s just extended his groin a little after playing a pass.

“Obviously it’s not ideal, especially at this stage of our planning but certainly Jose at least should be okay.

“We had a pretty good idea of what our starting eleven for the first game was going to be but, on the evidence of that, it would seem as if we have a little bit more thinking to do.”

Clough, who hopes to complete the signing of NEC Nijmegen centre-forward Michael Higdon shortly, was also referring to the manner in which a team which less than 48 hours earlier had beaten Turkish giants Fenerbahce, succumbed to opponents operating at the opposite end of the football spectrum.

Despite spending much of the opening period on the back foot, York created the contest’s best opportunities with Michael Coulson wasting a glorious chance and Keith Lowe forcing a superb reaction save from Mark Howard before Jarvis pounced.

New signings Harrison McGahey, Craig Alcock and Chris Basham, who glanced wide from the full-back’s centre, were among those spared Clough’s wrath.

However, despite expressing concerns about United’s application levels at Bootham Crescent, their manager did accept several factors beyond the team’s control had contributed to a low-key performance.

“We’ve had a really busy schedule,” Clough said.

“Two tough outings against Huddersfield [Town] and Fenerbahce and then this one here. Those were good games but this was disappointing.

“We looked a bit leggy and mentally tired but our decision making was unbelievably poor at times. I can’t think of too many positives to take from that.”

“Harrison was an exception, though,” Clough continued.

“Yes, he made a mistake for their second but forget about that because he’s young and he’s learning.

“Otherwise he headed everything away and coped really, really well.

“People like Harrison and Louis Reed, even though he didn’t feature here, have shown some of the older lads the way with their approach.

“I’d rather lose with the attitude that they’ve shown to be quite honest so we’ll have a talk about a few things and then expect the right response.”

While Marc McNulty produced an energetic display after emerging as a substitute, the sight of several tantalising crosses from Alcock fizzing untouched across the York box underlined why Clough is keen to acquire the services of a physical striker like Higdon.

Diego De Girolamo also looked lively but, despite earning Clough’s praise for his enthusiasm and technique, is still acquiring the knowledge required to fully exploit his talents.

“Craig put a lot of crosses in and we just need someone to get on the end of those now,” Clough said.

“But we’re making progress with that. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you they’d take a player like Craig all day long.

“Diego is very good when he runs at people and we love to see him doing that. We’d encourage him to do it all day so long as it’s in the right areas of the pitch. Where it would really count.”

Alcock was responsible for delivering the centre which Basham, captaining United in Michael Doyle’s absence, should have dispatched into the back of York’s net after Howard, again a pillar of authority between the posts, had denied Lowe following Russell Penn’s set-piece.

Jarvis scrambled home when United failed to clear their lines soon after the restart before claiming his second following McGahey’s miscalculation.

McNulty was earlier unfortunate not to have been awarded a penalty when he was upended by John McCombe.

“Our focus now is on Bristol City,” Clough said.

“Everything is geared towards that.”