Sheffield United reached the final of the Professional Development League Two play-offs after beating Charlton Athletic 2-0 at Bramall Lane.
Jordan Hallam’s second-half penalty set Derek Geary’s side on the course to victory when Horatio Hirst was wrestled over in the box.
It turned out to be the decisive moment of a match which, despite initially being low on clear-cut chances, was contested by two fiercely committed teams.
Having broken their opponents’ resistance, George Cantrill doubled United’s lead as the L2 North champions secured their place in the forthcoming showpiece where either Sheffield Wednesday or Coventry City await.
United beat last night’s visitors on the final day of the regular season and, for the most part, made the running again. Tyler Smith foraged, Regan Slater tackled and, when the visitors did test their defensive capabilities, Sam Graham proved an imposing presence at the back. Cantrill and Rhys Norrington-Davies also went about their work with impressive purpose. Indeed, flinging themselves at Jordan Hallam’s corner, it was a combination of Graham and Cantrill which went close to breaking the deadlock during the closing stages of the first-half.
But, for the most part, this tie proved to be an arm-wrestle until Alfie Doughty missed a wonderful opportunity for Charlton after being left unmarked at a free-kick.
Smith responded by sending a curling effort inches wide soon after the restart before Hallam converted from the spot. Cantrill sealed United’s progress by turning home Harvey Gilmour’s corner. Substitute David Parkhouse appeared to have scored a third but his effort was adjudged not to have crossed the line as United’s superiority told.
Sheffield United U18: Warhurst, Charlesworth, Norrington-Davies, Gilmour, Graham, Cantrill, Smith, Slater, Hirst, Hallam (Parkhouse 79), Greaves (Ford 71). Not used: Perryman, Parkhouse, Doherty, Ferguson.
Charlton Athletic U18: Maynard-Brewer, Bangura-Williams, Zemura, Maloney, Birch, Pollard, Dempsey, Morgan (Samiento 80), Willis (Anderson 68), Sarpong-Wiredu, Doughty. Not used: Harvey, Nwosu, Samiento, Isiaka.
Referee: Daniel Middleton.