Sheffield United: Billy Sharp issues a reminder as Blades thump Chesterfield

The evening started with Sheffield United unveiling Lys Mousset, their record new transfer signing, and ended with a hat-trick from the irrepressible Billy Sharp.

Tuesday, 23rd July 2019, 11:48 pm
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

But in between, as his team's return to the Premier League edges ever closer, Chris Wilder used the meeting with neighbours Chesterfield to showcase the talents of two younger members of Bramall Lane's first team squad.

Midiielder Regan Slater and his fellow teenager Marcus Dewhurst, the England youth goalkeeper, both started the fourth friendly of a pre-season programme designed to steel the visitors for the rigors of top-flight football.

Althouth neither is likely to start next month's trip to AFC Bournemouth - indeed Slater could yet be farmed-out on loan - their performances confirmed why United's coaching staff have invited them to train with their more experienced team mates during arguably the most important summer in the club's recent history.

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Although Slater was impressively neat, tidy and assured - demonstrating a cunning beyond his years when drawing fouls during the early exchanges - Dewhust found himself under an even stronger spotlight. With Dean Henderson's return from Manchester United still yet to be confirmed, the 18-year-old has played a more prominent role in United's preparations than might otherwise have been the case. After deputising for Simon Moore against Real Betis, Burton Albion and Northampton Town, he took his opportunity well; organising defenders, identifying potential dangers and showing good footwork and handling when required.

Of course, with the new campaign now less than three weeks away, Wilder must focus his attention on the here and now.

So, more than the sight of of his players recording another victory - they enter Saturday's game at Barnsley having won three of their four outings this summer - it was the sight of partnerships beginning to develop on the pitch which will have encouraged him the most. The one between Sharp and Robinson, who until Mousset's arrival had been United's most expensive purchase in their entire history - caused Chesterfield's defence all manner of problems. Another of Wilder's recent acquisitions - Luke Freeman - provided the cross for the captain's opener which, the manager later acknowledged, bodes well for the future.

Robinson doubled United's advantage immediately after the interval, caressing home from close range, as he earned his reward for an industrious and creative performance. Although pace is one of the biggest weapons in the Republic of Ireland international's armoury, Robinson's feints and approach play - littered with delicate first time passes and intelligent touches - was exquisite The match, however, belonged to Sharp. His exploits were a reminder - to both the coaching staff and new colleagues - that he remains a striker to be reckoned with.

Predictably, given the four division gap which now separates these two clubs, United controlled both the tempo and possession for the majority of the encounter. But Chesterfield, under the stewardship of Wilder's close friend and Sheffield Wednesday legend John Sheridan, had their moments. One, after Robinson had unleashed the first of several long-range efforts, forced Phil Jagielka to show the powers of recovery which served him so well as a youngster have not diminished during 12 years away. The defender, who re-joined United from Everton this month, did well to keep Anthony Spyrou at bay before dispatching the ball into touch.

Robinson continued to torment Chesterfield but it was Sharp, aided by Freeman, who first broke their resolve.

Dewhurst showed great bravery to deny Will Evans an equaliser on the stroke of half-time. Robinson caressed the ball home from close range soon after the interval before Sharp, lifting it over a despairing Shwan Jalal, added another. His third, and United's fourth, arrived midway through the second period. Luke Freeman completed the rout when he converted on the rebound after Jalal had thwarted David McGoldrick.