SHEFFIELD UNITED head to Malta tomorrow celebrating their first win of the Danny Wilson era after beating Worksop Town last night.
A clinical finish from Corey Gregory, a little over 10 minutes before the interval, proved enough to put Martin McIntosh’s side to the sword with Matthew Lowton and Richard Cresswell threatening to extend the visitors lead before the final whistle.
Erik Tonne did his best to catch the manager’s eye ahead of next week’s contests with Sliema Wanderers and Hibernians by delivering an accomplished display along the flank before being withdrawn.
That, coupled with promising shifts from Lescinel Jean-Francois and Shane Murray, will encourage Wilson that his bid to help United shed their long ball image is beginning to gather pace.
Clearly, as the margin of victory suggests, there is still plenty of work to be done. But, against a spirited Worksop outfit, Wilson can head to the Mediterranean encouraged that progress is being made.
United have embarked upon a major rebuilding exercise since being relegated from the Championship two months ago with Nick Montgomery, Ched Evans and Stephen Quinn also missing the fixture against McIntosh’s men.
But their troubles place into insignificance compared to those ensured by yesterday’s opponents who were appearing for the first time at Sandy Lane in over three years.
Having put his faith in youth ahead of last weekend’s draw with Sheffield FC, Wilson exposed more of his experienced names to the rigours of a pre-season campaign during this historic fixture.
Daniel Bogdanovic, who tested Worksop Jon Worsnop with a curling fifth minute free-kick, Michael Doyle, Neill Collins and new signing Lescinel Jean-Francois were among those who started here with former Hull City goalkeeper Matt Duke, Lee Williamson and Cresswell on the bench.
Trialists Alexander Kruk and Oliver Stang, who arrived from VFL Osnabruck earlier this week, were also sent on as second-half substitutes.
Bogdanovic continued to make his presence felt in the 19th minute when he created an opening for Corey Gregory which Worsnop fumbled around the post.
United continued to dominate possession with Doyle dropping deep in an effort to orchestrate proceedings from midfield.
But, barely two minutes after Gregory’s attempt, a careless mistake on the half way line handed Marc Thompson a chance to plough forward.Doyle’s blushes were spared though when Collins intervened.
Then Kozluk was caught unawares by the gigantic Danny Davidson but again Steve Simonson comfortably gathered.
However, just as Worksop sensed an opportunity to establish a foothold, United imposed themselves on the match when Gregory converted Tonne’s 33rd minute centre.
The Norwegian’s looping cross drifted from the wing towards the far post where his fellow youngster was on hand to power home expertly beyond Worsnop.
Matt Young, a Masters engineering student, responded with a fine drive for Worksop which had Simonsen scampering across his line.
But with Tonne emerging as a potent threat in attack, Doyle immediately went close at the other end after the Scandinavian against prised apart the hosts’ defence.
Danny Philliskirk’s appeals for a penalty when he contested the rebound with Worsnop were waved away by referee Jock Waugh. Despite making a flurry of changes, United maintained their rhythm with Murray dragging a low shot just wide of the woodwork before hooking over from a training ground set-piece.
Lowton tried his luck while Worksop’s Rory Boulding drew a smart save from Duke.
n WORKSOP: Worsnop, Wood, Turner (Williams 60), Shiels, Roberts, Cotterill (Bacon 77), Young, Davies (Barwick 60), Davidson (Boulding 46), Muller (Mullen 84), Thompson. Substitutes: Kennedy.
n UNITED: Simonsen (Duke 46), Jean-Francois, Doyle (Harriott 46), Collins (Stang 46), Bogdanovic (Cresswell 46), Maguire (Kruk 46), McAllister (Williamson 46), Philliskirk’s (Conneely 71), Gregory (Slew 46), Kozluk (Lowton 46), Tonne (Murray 46). Substitutes: Chappell.