Sheffield United's U23s suffered a rare defeat at home as they went down 2-1 to Crewe Alexandra in their Professional Development League clash today.
United last lost at Stocksbridge in late August, to Bristol City, but a brace of superb strikes from Crewe's Oliver Finney sealed all three points for the visitors either side of a similarly impressive goal from United winger Stephen Mallon.
The display, and result, was a vast improvement on their last outing - a 6-0 reverse at Burnley - yet this was far from a classic, as the late October chill began to set in high on the Stocksbridge hills.
With that defeat still fresh in United minds, though, hearts will have been in mouths when Tom Lowery waltzed through the home defence inside the first 30 seconds, Jordan Amissah saving well to keep the scores level.
United, fielding trialist Wealth Da Silva of Bury U18s, almost went behind when Lowery misjudged a header from a matter of yards out with Amissah stranded.
And the opening goal did eventually come on the half-hour mark, when Finney let fly from long distance and beat Amissah with his well-struck shot.
United struck back when Mallon, reestablishing himself in the side after a long spell on the sidelines with injury, netted with a well-placed effort from outside the box to level the scores at half-time.
Just moments into the second half Amissah was in action again, saving well from Kevin O'Connor as United's defence waited for an offside flag that didn't come.
And the United goalkeeper redeemed himself just before the 70-minute mark when a sloppy pass gave Crewe an opening, before a smart save snuffed out the chance.
Crewe went ahead for a second time, though, when Finney let fly on the angle. Amissah got a hand to the swerving shot, but couldn't prevent it going into the top corner.
United almost forced an equaliser in injury time when Harry Sheppeard attempted to lob Crewe goalkeeper Will Jääskeläinen, the son of former Bolton stopper Jussi, but the ball sailed agonisingly over the crossbar and United were left only with the rare taste of defeat for their efforts.
Blades: Amissah, Sheppeard, Boyes, Doherty, Cantrill, York, Broadbent, Da Silva (Williams 62), Oure (C. Greaves 62), Hallam, Mallon (Neal 62).
Unused: Dewhurst, Ackroyd.