Sheffield United: Marc McNulty provides the spark as Blades' U23s extend unbeaten run
Marc McNulty celebrated his return to South Yorkshire with the winning goal as Sheffield United's U23s came from behind to beat Huddersfield Town at Stocksbridge yesterday.
The Scottish striker, recalled early from his loan spell at United’s Yorkshire rivals Bradford City, netted a typically-clinical finish after David Brooks had earlier dragged the hosts back on level terms.
But the win, which extended United’s unbeaten run to six U23 games, came at a price as Louis Reed saw red late on.
In front of watching United boss Chris Wilder, as well as assistant Alan Knill, goalkeeping coach Darren Ward and head of recruitment Paul Mitchell, a strong United side - which included Stefan Scougall as well as McNulty and French trialist Guillaume Trani - started slowly, although McNulty was twice denied by good blocks before captain James Wilson blazed his shot into the houses next to Bracken Moor as the assistant referee raised his flag for offside.
Huddersfield’s impressive Denilson Carvalho tested Aaron Ramsdale with a shot from distance, and Brooks’ effort went just over after good work from Trani.
Scougall and Town’s Jack Boyle both had efforts ruled out for offside either side of half-time, but the visitors went ahead after 67 minutes when Lewis O’Brien bundled home after United failed to clear a corner.
Ramsdale made a smart save to keep out Boyle’s shot from long range, and it was United’s highly-rated youngster Brooks who netted an impressive equaliser at the other end with 22 minutes left on the clock.
Scougall seized upon a loose ball in midfield and fed Brooks on the left. The former Manchester City youngster shifted the ball onto his right foot, looked up and unleashed a superb curling effort, which beat Town’s Luke Coddington and nestled in the far corner.
United had changed tactically by then, operating Brooks and Scougall behind McNulty, but it was the impressive Reed who created the winner with a superb pass with his weaker left foot. McNulty, who scored just once for Bradford, still had a fair bit to do, but he showed the clinical streak that was apparently missing in his spell in West Yorkshire to fire past Coddington and seal victory for United.
There was still time for Reed to see red, seemingly for words directed at referee Darren Strain after Brooks was booked for kicking the ball away, but by then the job had been done.
n United: Ramsdale, Bennett, Wilson, Semple, Kelly, Reed, Trani (Slater, 75), Scougall, Brooks, McNulty, Wright Jr (Mallon, 62). Not used: Graham, Warhurst, Hallam.
Huddersfield: Coddington, Williams, Kane, Cogill, Hanson, Carvalho (Colville, 60), Booty, O’Brien, Spencer (Dyson, 56), Boyle, Pyke. Not used: Tear, Schofield, Warde.
Referee: Darren Strain