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Wednesday 2-0 U21s - report

22 April 2016

With play-off qualification already assured, a disappointing showing saw the Blades lose a scrappy encounter at Hillsborough on Friday.

First-half strikes from Caolan Lavery and Jack Stobbs were enough for the Owls, with Lavery also missing a penalty in the second-half. The closest the Blades came was through Joel Coustrain and Louis Reed, with both hitting the woodwork, in an otherwise difficult afternoon in S6.

Prior to kick-off, both captains laid floral tributes in memory of Brenda Smith, mother of former United Academy Coach and Owls favourite Mark, who recently passed away after a long illness. Brenda was a popular figure at the SteelPhalt Academy at Shirecliffe and a familiar face in the kitchen area, despite making no secret of her allegiances to the blue and white half of the city known. Both teams also wore black armbands as a mark of respect for the Wednesday season ticket holder with the flowers placed in her seat for the duration of the game.

The Owls enjoyed the better chances in the first 15 minutes, with Stobbs twice coming close, once with his right foot and then with his left. And moments later Lowe came even with a long-range effort. So it was no surprise when the hosts opened the scoring in the 18th minute. Number 2 cut out Reed's cross field pass and having advanced down the right, picked out LAVERY who looped a header over Willis.

The Blades response was almost an instant one though. Coustrain ran powerfully at the retreating home defence and fired a left-footed effort against the crossbar, De Girolamo scrambled the loose ball into the net, but he was adjudged to have fouled Wednesday goalkeeper Dawson. United were gradually coming into the contest, with Coustrain putting in an inviting cross from the left, before Cockerline shot over from 25 yards.

As the clocked ticked past the half hour, O'Grady blocked De Girolamo's goal bound effort and from the resulting corner, Dawson had to be alert at his near post to deny Cockerline. The Wednesday stopper was then called into action to save from Brooks from distance.

But the Blades were punished for missing those opportunities in the 39th minute, as Wednesday doubled their advantage. Centeno robbed trialist Akinwumni and crossed to the back post where STOBBS stole in front of Kelly and side-footed past Willis with the last meaningful action of the first-half.

United made a change at the break, with Banton replacing trialist Anderson. The Blades then had a let off in the 50th minute, Banton was adjudged to have fouled Croasdale in the area after a short pass from Brooks, but Lavery fired wide from the spot. At the other end, Reed stole possession from Lowe in midfield and was unfortunate to his drilled effort hit the post with Dawson beaten.

Just after the hour, after Wednesday failed to clear a corner properly De Girolamo found himself with only Dawson to beat, but the striker missed his kick as he attempted to volley home. Moments later 16-year-old midfielder Slater was introduced for his debut, replacing Mallon who had picked up an injury.

As the game entered the final 15 minutes, the Blades nearly profited from a goalmouth scramble, but neither Reed nor Cockerline could force the ball home from Akinwumni's cross. The Blades ended the game with ten men as Kennedy left the field injured as the game petered out tamely.

Blades: Willis, Akinwumni, Kelly, Reed, Anderson (Banton 45), Kennedy, McDonagh, Brooks, Cockerline, De Girolamo, Coustrain (Mallon 51, Slater 72).
Unused: Ramsdale, Gilmour.

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