Bristol Rovers 2 Sheffield United 3: Weight lifted from Blades' shoulders as they secure first win of season
After nearly four months and at the 19th time of asking, Sheffield United have their first win of the season.
The fact it came in the FA Cup rather than the Premier League, and against third tier opposition in the shape of Bristol Rovers, did not matter a jot to Chris Wilder and his players who could barely disguise their delight afterwards.
Well, they tried - attempting to look pretty indifferent in front of the television cameras. But the spring in their steps as they made their way off the pitch betrayed the fact a weight had just been lifted from this team’s shoulders.
The trick now, after Jayden Bogle’s second-half goal stopped a Rovers fight-back in its tracks, is to ensure Wilder’s 100th win at the helm of his boyhood club becomes the catalyst for a climb towards PL safety. Not to mention healing some of the wounds a dirpriting run of results had clearly caused to the relationship between the manager and his board of directors.
With Max Ehmer cancelling out substitute Oliver Burke’s strike, this third round tie was in danger of entering extra-time until Bogle’s instinctive finish, following good work by McGoldrick and the former West Bromwich Albion marksman, deserved;y restored United’s advantage.
Paul Tisdale’s men, struggling with United’s pace and intensity at times, had also fought back when Lys Mousset headed United into an early lead. Rovers caused problems in parts and should be proud of their contribution to what was an entertaining contest. But United, as you would expect, possessed more energy, intensity, ingenuity and ability.
The contest was evenly poised at the break, with Alfie Kilgour equalising for Rovers following Mousset’s early strike, although his effort will almost certainly be credited as an own goal. Despite the scoreline, however, United controlled the majority of the first period and will have been disappointed, not to mention confused given Keith Stroud’s decision to disallow another Mousset goal following a ‘foul’ by John Egan.
The challenge, as he outmuscled a Rovers defender to head the ball back into his team mate’s path, appeared no different to the one which had seen Kilgour beat Basham to meet Zain Westbrooke’s set-piece.
Bristol Rovers: Day, Leahy, Ehmer, Upson (Rodman 80), Westbrook, Hanlan, McCormick, Kilgour, Ayunga (Barrett 63), Baldwin, Oztumer (Grant 63). Not used: Van Stappershoef, Little, Kelly, Hargreaves, Harries, Koiki.
Sheffield United: Ramsdale, Basham, Egan, Ampadu, Bogle, Osborn, Norwood, Fleck (Lowe 86), Lundstram (Bryan 73), Mousset (Burke 53), McGoldrick. Not used: Verrips, Sharp, Jagielka, Brewster, Gordon.
Referee: Keith Stroud.