Disappointment for Sheffield United's U23s as they lose play-off final to Birmingham City
Sheffield United’s hopes of ending their season by lifting the U23 Professional Development League title were dashed this afternoon as they lost 2-0 to Birmingham City at Bramall Lane.
United, who began the final as favourites after beating City twice in the normal season and then hammering Ipswich Town 4-0 in the semi-final, were below par from start to finish and never really got going after being hit with the body blow of conceding twice in the first 15 minutes of the game.
City striker Adan George netted both, to put his side in control. The first was a smashed finish past Marcus Dewhurst after springing the offside trap, a second a neatly flicked header into the far corner, and United were up against it almost before they had even got going.
It could have been worse just before the half-hour mark, when City centre-half Geraldo Bajrami somehow nodded a free header wide in the box, and United’s only real opening of the first half came when Femi Seriki broke down the right but he couldn’t find a teammate with his cross.
City started the second half as brightly as they had begun the first and Dewhurst, who had earlier been forced into a smart block with his legs to deny Keke Simmonds, saved smartly from George as the City man looked to complete his hat-trick from a tight angle.
Harrison Neal, the United skipper, was forced to block well after Jayden Reid was played in down the left and drifted inside before shooting, while Zak Brunt had a rare effort on target for United when City goalkeeper Oliver Basey saved his long-range shot comfortably.
United rallied a little late on, Kyron Gordon hitting the outside of the post with a header and then forcing Basey to palm away a driven cross with Osula lurking, and Gordon was incensed at an injury-time decision by referee Aaron Bannister to not give a penalty after he was bundled over.
United huffed and puffed after that, Brunt snatching at a shot and sending it over the bar, and were left to rue what might have been as City celebrated with the trophy.