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Match Reports

Sheffield United 1 Brentford 0

Billy Sharp's first-half header condemns The Bees to an opening-day defeat at Bramall Lane

5 August 2017

Your Sheffield United v Brentford match report powered by Utilita

Billy Sharp’s first-half header condemned Brentford to defeat on the opening day of the Sky Bet Championship season.

Following a challenging first 45 minutes The Bees looked brighter after the interval with Nico Yennaris, Lasse Vibe and Neal Maupay all going close, but Sheffield United stood strong to take all three points at Bramall Lane.

Brentford lined up in a 4-3-3 formation with Henrik Dalsgaard chosen at right-back and Kamohelo Mokotjo handed a first competitive start at the heart of midfield. Fellow new singings Neal Maupay, Ollie Watkins and Luke Daniels were selected amongst the seven substitutes.

It was Brentford who started the brighter in the Yorkshire sunshine, settling a crowd brimming with expectation following last season’s romp to the League One title. Dalsgaard - who had been hugging the touchline from kick-off - was slipped down the right-hand side with seven minutes on the clock but his low ball was turned out by Jack O’Connell. One minute later and it was the host’s turn to attack; Leon Clarke nodding a scooped cross well wide of the post.

Following an uneventful opening, the game burst into life on the 15-minute mark. Lasse Vibe forced Jamal Blackman into a smart save at his near post having combined with Jota, before the roles were reversed nine minutes later; Jota dragging Vibe’s pull-back wide with the Kop stand bearing down. There was a major let-off at the other end shortly after as debutant Edna Stevens’ long-range effort rebounded off the post with Dan Bentley beaten.

The hosts were going through the gears with half-time approaching and made their pressure pay on 39 minutes. Having scuffed his first attempt at a cross, Clarke eventually found the unmarked Sharp who sent the former’s ball back across goal and behind Bentley. A prolonged stoppage in play prevented United from building any further momentum before the break as Dean Smith’s side headed in for the interval trailing by one.

Bentley was tested again within a minute of the restart as United looked to double their advantage. Clark did well to advance to the by-line and stand up a cross for Sharp, but last season’s 30-goal man couldn’t generate enough power to bother Bentley. Brentford had a chance of their own seconds later; Jota firing into the hands of Blackman 30 yards from goal.

Jota’s chance was a rare reprieve as the home side continued to push for a second goal. United had the ball in the back of the net twice in two minutes – first through Clarke and then a close-range rebound from Sharp – but both efforts were ruled out by the linesman’s flag. Fleck found the side-netting two minutes later as Brentford continued to weather the storm.

Smith decided to roll the dice just before the hour mark with Nico Yennaris and Watkins brought on in place of Mokotjo and Florian Jozefzoon. Yennaris was straight in amongst the action, nodding onto the crossbar following Jota’s rasping drive before Vibe’s header cleared the crossbar from four yards out.

Brentford began to wrestle back some control midway through the second period with Yennaris and Watkins seeing plenty of the ball following their introduction. It was the latter who slipped through Vibe on 68 minutes, but a United body flew in to block the Danish man’s drive.

Maupay replaced McEachran with ten minutes to go as The Bees piled men forward in search of an equaliser. The Frenchman could have scored with his first touch but, having been played through by Woods, fired straight at the on-rushing Blackman. Maupay was at it again in the dying stages, first clearing the crossbar before blazing one over from the edge of the area. That proved to be the last action of the game as the hosts stood firm to earn all three points on their return to the second tier.

Sheffield United: Blackman; Freeman, Stearman, Basham, O’Connell, Stevens; Coutts, Curruthers (Lundstram 71), Fleck; Clarke, Sharp (Lavery 78)

Subs (not used): Wright, Duffy, Lafferty, Eastwood, Brooks

Brentford: Bentley; Dalsgaard, Egan, Bjelland, Henry; Mokotjo (Yennaris 59), McEachran (Maupay 78), Woods; Jota, Vibe, Jozefzoon (Watkins 59)

Subs (not used): Colin, Sawyers, Daniels, Barbett

Attendance: 26,746 (1,210 away)

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