Stocksbridge Park Steels 1 Sheffield United 5 - Wilder delighted with attitude as Blades show Steel in friendly win

Billy Sharp slams in one of his two goals in the Blades' friendly win at Stocksbridge Park Steels. Picture: James Wilson/Sportimage
Billy Sharp slams in one of his two goals in the Blades' friendly win at Stocksbridge Park Steels. Picture: James Wilson/Sportimage
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Sixty one days after the curtain fell on another Championship season, Sheffield United returned to action with a comfortable victory Stocksbridge Park Steels at Bracken Moor.

The songs were the same and so, despite a hairy few weeks in May, was the manager having agreed a new contract amid interest from Sunderland.

Blades boss Chris Wilder watches on as he side play out a friendly with Stocksbridge Park Steels. Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Blades boss Chris Wilder watches on as he side play out a friendly with Stocksbridge Park Steels. Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

The tactics Chris Wilder employed were familiar too, as his players poured forward in numbers and attacked from the back which, predictably, overwhelmed their non-league neighbours.

But it was the environment, not the scoreline, which impressed him the most.

“I thought the lads showed a good attitude,” Wilder said.

“We always enjoy coming here to Stocksbridge, we’ve got a great relationship with them.

Leon Clarke gets a shot away before a tackle comes in. Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Leon Clarke gets a shot away before a tackle comes in. Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

“Yes, we’re disappointed we didn’t put more of the chances we created away.

“But it was good to be back out there on the grass again.”

Drawing concrete conclusions from matches like this is a dangerous business.

After all Caolan Lavery, who scored a hat-trick when these teams met 12 months ago, is now surplus to requirements at Bramall Lane.

Caolan Lavery celebrates his goal with Enda Stevens. Picture: James Wilson/Sportimage

Caolan Lavery celebrates his goal with Enda Stevens. Picture: James Wilson/Sportimage

But they do provide some clues for those in the prediction business.

Leon Clarke and Billy Sharp, the scorer of two well-taken goals, both approached their work with an enthusiasm which bodes well for next 10 months while youngsters Regan Slater and Rhys Norrington-Davies did not look out of place after being named in Wilder’s starting eleven.

The latter’s willingness to bring the ball out of defence could lead to further opportunities, given Wilder’s commitment to attacking football.

But only after he is assessed in a more challenging environment, such as Thursday’s meeting with Maritomo.

The same goes for Harvey Gilmour and Tyler Smith, who appeared after the interval.

“We’re looking to get Regan and Rhys out on loan,” Wilder confirmed.

“We try and do that with our good young players.

“But we need them here with us for the next few weeks.

“So, until then, they’ll be staying here with us.”

If United thought Stocksbridge would be content to play a supporting role, they thought wrong.

Daniel Lafferty had not even broken sweat when he found himself on the receiving end of a challenge by Tom Charlesworth which would have drawn applause at Twickenham, let alone the Look Local Stadium.

Moments later, Tyler Williams robbed Mark Duffy of possession when the visiting midfielder, placing his foot on the ball, was guilty of misjudging the mood.

Still, in the 12th minute, normal services was resumed when Fleck caressed it into the back of the net following a delightful team move.

Five minutes later, Sharp’s dancing feet hypnotised the Stocksbridge defence and poor Jordan Greaves was beaten again.

Chris Hilton’s team deserved credit for refusing to crumble as the flow of chances United were creating turned into a flood.

But, after Greaves and crossbar had both denied Sharp, few eyebrows were raised when the captain pounced again during the closing stages of a one-sided first-half.

Earlier, Duffy had gone close with a long-range effort before Leon Clarke saw an attempt scrambled clear on the edge of the six yard box.

Like Sharp, he also struck a post after navigating safe passage through a crowd of yellow shirts.

With Wilder making eleven changes during the interval, it fell to Smith, another of their promising academy graduates, to increase United’s lead.

The teenager’s most potent weapons are his seemingly endless reserves of energy and a sharp turn of pace.

But Smith showed he boasts an eye for an opening too, prodding home on the rebound from close range soon after the re-start.

Sheffield United First-Half: Henderson, Baldock, Fleck, Basham, Clarke, Sharp, Stearman, Duffy, Lafferty, Slater, Norrington-Davies. Substitutes: Eastwood, Stevens, O’Connell, Evans, Lavery, Wright, Leonard.

Sheffield United Second-Half: Eastwood, Stevens, O’Connell, L Evans, Lavery, Wright, Leonard, Gilmour, Freeman, Holmes, Smith.

Attendance: 1324