Match Report: Sheffield United 1, Barnsley 0

Blades v Barnsley
Blades v Barnsley
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Sheffield United claimed the derby day honours with this narrow but deserved win over Barnsley at Bramall Lane.

Billy Sharp goal, just past the quarter-of-an-hour mark, proved enough to secure Chris Wilder's side their second victory of the Championship season and condemn the visitors to defeat.

Paul Heckingbottom, the Barnsley manager, watched his side come under huge spells of pressure during an eventful fixture which also produced two red cards.

But United, despite failing to extend their lead following Sharp's intervention, were worthy of all three points.

Both teams were reduced to 10 men just before the interval when Leon Clarke and Angus MacDonald, the Barnsley captain, were dismissed. Although both sets of players had been competitive, the flashpoint which forced the officials to take action came totally out of the blue. Indeed, the reactions of Clarke and MacDonald as they trudged sheepishly off the pitch suggested they knew an almighty rollocking awaited when Wilder and Heckingbottom reviewed video footage of the incident.

United had earlier come bursting out of the blocks in a show, following back to back defeats, of footballing defiance.

Their was an intelligence to their play but, more than anything, it was the tempo which dragged Barnsley this way and that until Sharp scored his second of the season.

Jack O'Connell was the architect; driving a low centre across the penalty area which simply begged to be smashed home.

Sharp, despite appearing to lose his balance, duly obliged but United were unable to stretch their advantage.

Fortunately for them, when Barnsley did find themselves in a promising position, all to often their pass selection was poor.

Despite expressing concerns about his team's lack of ruthlessness "in both boxes" following Tuesday's match at Cardiff City, Wilder decided against making wholesale changes for the first South Yorkshire derby of the new campaign. With Richard Stearman ruled-out through injury, Jake Wright's selection at the heart of United's rearguard was enforced. But Wilder did recall Mark Duffy to their attack at the expense of Samir Carruthers, and the former Birmingham City midfielder impressed before being withdrawn for David Brooks. The youngster announced his arrival with a mazy run which put Barnsley's defence on the back foot before, in the 71st minute, watching a shot squirm beneath Adam Davies and roll across the line only to hit the far post.

O'Connell also made his presence felt at both ends of the pitch while Wright organised well alongside him.

But it was Clarke who really caught the eye during the opening period with some excellent hold-up play. Always making himself available and displaying excellent close control, the former Sheffield Wednesday, Bury and Wolverhampton Wanderers striker was also a bundle of energy as he continually hunted down opponents to deny them time on the ball.

It made his actions during a seemingly innocuous stand-off with MacDonald even more difficult to fathom.

Robinson took advice from his assistant when Clarke and the Barnsley captain went face to face and, after being informed the latter had used his head in a threatening manner before being grabbed by the throat, sent both men off.

Wilder and Heckingbottom walked to the opposite sides of their respective technical areas as the pair were led down the tunnel.

After six minutes of frantic action, United created the first opportunity of note. Enda Stevens and John Fleck combined well to find Sharp lurking just outside the six yard box. The centre-forward got plenty of power behind his shot but Davies, the Barnsley goalkeeper, excelled himself to scramble clear. It was an incident which proved the catalyst for a sustained period of pressure - Mark Duffy seeing a free-kick deflected behind for a corner and Chris Basham duly going close at the far post - but Heckingbottom's charges hung on; until Sharp fired United into a deserved 16th minute lead.

United continued to pose questions but not, it must be said, with quite the same regularity. As the half progressed, Barnsley began to establish some sort of foothold in the contest only to let themselves down with a series of poor final balls. However, as the game became increasingly scrappy, it provided them with a route back in.

The second period was, by and large, a much more even affair.

O'Connell blazed over the crossbar from long-range immediately after the break before Brad Potts headed a corner into the away fans behind Jamal Blackman's goal.

Barnsley, fresh from their noteworthy win over Nottingham Forest in midweek, predictably named the same starting eleven but spent the majority of the afternoon repelling United attacks.

Davies, having already done well to turn away Sharp's earlier attempt, excelled himself again when O'Connell powered a header towards goal in the 74th minute.

Sheffield United: Blackman, O'Connell, Wright, Basham, Stevens, Freeman, Coutts, Fleck, Duffy (Brooks 66), Clarke, Sharp (Evans 75). Not used: Lundstram, Lafferty, Brayford, Eastwood, Carruthers.

Barnsley: Davies, McCarthy (Ugbo 46), Williams, MacDonald, Hammill, Bradshaw (Thiam 79), Moncur (Pinnock 46), Jackson, Potts, Pearson, Hedges. Not used: Townsend, Barnes, Mowatt, Bird.

Referee: Tim Robinson (West Sussex)

Attendance: 25,482.

Star Man: Mark Duffy.