French defender Nickseon Gomis was the unlikely goal hero as Sheffield United's U23s beat Birmingham City in their Professional Development League clash this afternoon.
A game of few clear-cut chances appeared to be drifting towards stalemate at Bramall Lane, before Gomis’ timely intervention saw him get on the end of Jordan Hallam's free-kick and smash home what turned out to be the winner.
Gomis, previously of Evreux FC 27, joined United last summer and made up a relatively young Blades side, captained by Jake Eastwood and also featuring Sam Graham who is on loan at Oldham.
Beryly Lubala twice went close to opening the scoring for the visitors, shooting wide of Eastwood's goal and then forcing the goalkeeper into a save from a free-kick, before Charlie Lakin hit the post directly from a corner.
Olly McCoy's cross from the left somehow evaded everyone before United enjoyed their first real chance of the game, when Hallam latched onto the ball after a good run from Oliver Greaves but couldn't make enough contact and Connal Trueman made the save.
Keenan Ferguson was perhaps fortunate to escape without serious injury after a high challenge by Viv Solomon-Otabor but as United started to grow into the game, Simeon Oure latched onto Reece York's pass but after electing to cross instead of shooting, his pass was too heavy for Hallam to latch on to.
Isaac Vassell, a cousin of former England striker Darius, could only divert a dangerous cross over Eastwood's crossbar and the United stopper did well to keep out Geraldo Bajrami’s header shortly after.
His centre-half partner Dan Scarr went close with a header that went wide but left Eastwood stranded, and the United goalkeeper breathed a sigh of relief when Lubula curled a free-kick from a dangerous position straight into his hands.
Former Guiseley man Jake Young impressed after coming off the bench and could have broke the deadlock after rolling Scarr, but his effort went across goal and neither Oure or Greaves could capitalise.
But the breakthrough did eventually come 13 minutes from time, when an enterprising run from right-back Harry Sheppeard drew a foul from two Birmingham players. Hallam curled in the free-kick from deep, it took a nick off a Blues defender and landed invitingly for Gomis, who smashed home at the back post to earn United all three points.