It was back to basics and back to winning ways for The Blades yesterday, cruising to a 4-0 home victory at home to AFC Wimbledon. Sharp, Hanson, Fleck and Lavery were all on the score sheet, restoring United place at the top of League One. With Scunthorpe slipping to a defeat away at Southend, and Bolton drawing, United now sit in a very strong position in the league.
After conceding 10 goals in 4 games, the return of Jake Wright to the defence was a welcome one. A magnificent display from the ex-Oxford skipper, leading and organising the defence, was imperative in achieving yesterday’s clean sheet. Furthermore his tracking of balls which fell in behind O’Connell, Ebanks-Landell and Basham gave something The Blades had missed in recent weeks, stopping runs in behind in their tracks. This allowed Ebanks-Landell to thrive in his normal role as an enforcer, with Basham and O’Connell being their solid selves either side. Wright’s role allowed the other centre backs to play tighter to Wimbledon’s main threat, Elliot, as well as bring the ball into the midfield, something which aided the Blades dominance of the game. It was therefore a quiet afternoon for Simon Moore, who dealt well with the little that came his way comfortably.
The midfield were another shining light in the game, with Fleck and Duffy in particular having excellent games. Fleck’s trademark driving runs from the midfield were back, pushing the team forward and prising open Wimbledon. Duffy was again the bright creative spark for the Blades, with his relentless running and clever balls in behind causing The Dons defence havoc. Had Lavery been on the pitch, I believe he would have had a hatful if the pace required was on the pitch to latch onto these cutting balls. Carruthers also looked very calm in his Bramall Lane introduction, maintaining possession well and always looking to penetrate the opposition’s defence. It was a very assured display from all, with the Blades dominating the ball in the middle of the park.
Hanson and Sharp also looked to forge a decent partnership in their first game together. Although Hanson quite clearly is not at the pinnacle of his fitness, he offered an aerial and physical presence, proving a handful for the Wimbledon defence both in the air and on the ground. He looks to be useful in games such as this, where the opposition have quite a physical back line. Lavery also looked very sharp when he came on, providing a cultured finish after cutting inside in the dying embers of the game. If the midfield can keep carving open defences as they did yesterday, his pace in behind could be crucial in winning a lot of games.
All in all, an excellent team performance saw United win at a canter against Wimbledon. The Blades played some excellent attacking football yesterday, and provided a solid and organised display at the back. With the depth of quality the side now has on the bench, and if this set of players can perform to the level they did this week, the automatic slots are theirs to lose.
Written by: @tfjournalism