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Match Reports

Blades v Bolton

25 February 2017

Blades 2-0 Bolton - report

United produced a dominant display to beat promotion rivals Bolton and in doing so strengthen the position at the top of the table on Saturday afternoon.

A well taken brace from skipper Billy Sharp, including a second-half penalty was enough to see off Phil Parkinson's Wanderers in front of another crowd in excess of 27,000.

For the clash against third-placed Bolton, boss Wilder named an unchanged starting XI, with the only change on being on the bench, where James Wilson replaced the injured Joe Riley. For the visitors, former United stopper Mark Howard started.

On a wet and windy afternoon at the Lane, United had the first chance of the game in the eighth minute. Having had a shot deflected wide for a corner, Coutts floated in a teasing ball that tempted Howard off his line, Hanson saw his goal bound header cleared and from the rebound Wright volleyed over under pressure.

But in the next attack, the Blades took the lead. Wright bravely blocked Wilkinson's shot, and after Basham released Duffy, he picked out Fleck whose ball beat the attempted touch of Beevers leaving SHARP in the clear and the Blades skipper silenced the travelling supporters by slotting home his 22nd goal of the season past Howard with the aid of the post.

In response, Henry freed Moxey down the left, but his inviting ball evaded both Wilkinson and Le Fondre. United enjoyed plenty of the ball in the middle of the park, with Coutts, Fleck and Duffy dictating much of the game.

On the half hour, Morais had two free-kicks in a short space of time, but neither came to anything. Fleck was the first player booked by referee Dean following a mistimed challenge on Thorpe, who was later replaced by Dervite.

As half-time approached the home support became frustrated following a succession of free-kicks going against the Blades, but Lafferty and then O'Connell ensured the danger was swiftly averted as two minutes of added time brought he curtain down on the first-half.

United were quickly out of the blocks following the restart with Sharp miscuing an effort wide from Hanson's header down. Moments later, Sharp tried to replay the favour from Duffy's ball over the top, but Dervite cleared in the nick of time. The Blades continued to dominate and only a fortunate save from Howard denied Sharp a second with a header after Fleck had picked out his run.

Le Fondre was replaced by Long, amid boos from the home supporters following his lack of sportsmanship in the first-half and at the next stoppage in play, Carruthers replaced Duffy. Bolton's final change saw Clayton take the place of Clayton. From another quickly taken corner, Coutts fired inches wide of the far post.

With 20 minutes United got the second their dominance deserved. Following a sliced clearance from Howard, the Blades took a quick throw-in and as Carruthers entered the penalty area and cut inside Wheater was penalised by referee Dean having clipped the heels of the substitute. In front of the Kop, SHARP stepped up and sent Howard the wrong way.

Time was in United's favour, but Wright was required late on to block an effort from Clayton. At the other end, Dervite appeared to hold back Sharp, but Dean waved play on. With a minute left of the 90, Lavery replaced Hanson, who received a standing ovation.

Three minutes of added time were signalled and it was the Blades who finished the game of the front foot as they landed what could prove to be a telling blow in the race for promotion. The last action of the afternoon saw the Lane rise to applaud skipper Sharp who was withdrawn with seconds remaining.

Blades: Moore, Fleck, O'Connell, Basham, Sharp (Ebanks-Landell 90), Wright, Coutts, Hanson (Lavery 90), Freeman, Duffy (Carruthers 63), Lafferty.
Unused: Long, Done, Wilson, O'Shea,

Bolton: Howard, Moxey, Beevers, Vela, Osede, Morais, Henry, Wheater, Thorpe (Dervite 43), Wilkinson (Clayton 66), Le Fondre (Long 62)
Unused: Solomon-Otabor, Alnwick, Trotter, Wabara.

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