Brentford manager Dean Smith watched Sheffield United complete their summer warm-up programme by recording a sixth win in as many outings.
Smith, whose team travels to Bramall Lane on the opening day of the Championship campaign, witnessed another encouraging performance from Chris Wilder’s side as goals from Enda Stevens, Daniel Lafferty and Matt Done dispatched tenacious Eastleigh in difficult conditions.
Although the sight of Mark Duffy joining Simon Moore in the treatment room meant it was not an entirely profitable evening - Wilder confirmed the goalkeeper will undergo a “minor clean up operation” on his knee next week - Done’s contribution after being recalled to the squad gave the visitors with a much more welcome headache.
“Doney showed an excellent attitude,” Wilder, who handed debuts to Jamal Blackman and John Lundstram, said. “The same as John (Brayford) who also came back in. I think our attitude to them has been the right one too.
“They are still our players, they are still available and their attitude has been exactly what I would expect from good professionals.”
With the new season only a week away, the battle for places in Wilder’s starting eleven took on an intriguing dimension last night.
Only United’s coaching staff know whether their team selection for this fixture was primarily designed to confuse Smith or compare and contrast players vying for the same role.
If it was the latter, wing-backs Stevens and Lafferty, whose strike was fit to grace Stamford Bridge let alone the Silverlake Stadium, provided Wilder with plenty of food for thought by both hitting the target before the break.
Samir Carruthers and Duffy also began the game although the former Birmingham City attacker was later forced-off with an injury which, depending upon the prognosis, could decide who spearheads United’s midfield against the visitors from west London.
“That was an attitude game full stop,” Wilder continued.
“Exactly as we knew and wanted it to be. They (Eastleigh) are full of ex-league players and good pros who don’t like losing. And we don’t want to lose either. The approach from our lads, right the way through, has been superb.”
Stevens, playing in a more advanced role, converted Duffy’s cross during the early exchanges before Lafferty’s long distance shot pierced Eastleigh’s defence and nearly burst the back of Graham Stack’s net.
Despite falling behind, Richard Hill’s side had been competitive and, after former United winger Mark Yeates had gone close, James Constable reduced the deficit.
Blackman, making his first appearance since signing on loan from Chelsea, darted off his line but was powerless to make a save. Like Brayford, Done was told he is free to leave Bramall Lane following last term’s League One title triumph.
But he gave Wilder a not-so-gentle nudge by powering home from close range after the interval. Done tested Stack again after the former Arsenal goalkeeper had denied David Brooks.
A rare piece of careless defending threw Eastleigh a lifeline - substitute Ben Strevens beating Blackman with a low drive - seconds before full-time.
Sheffield United first half: Blackman, Stevens, Fleck, Basham, Sharp, Bennett, Stearman, Duffy (Done 37), Lavery, Lafferty, Carruthers.
Second half: Blackman, O’Connell, Lundstram, Thomas, Clarke, Done, Wright, Brayford, Coutts, Freeman, Brooks. Not used: Eastwood.
Referee: Graham Horwood.
Star Man: Samir Carruthers