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Match Reports

Oxford v Blades

7 March 2017

Oxford 2-3 Blades - report

The Blades smashed through the 70-point mark by completing the double over Oxford United.


Skipper Billy Sharp made it 26 for the season with a double and Kieron Freeman was also on target as United came from behind to win.


Boss Wilder was forced into one change for the re-arranged encounter. Duffy picked up an ankle injury in the weekend's draw at Rochdale and was replaced by Ebanks-Landell, which saw a change in role for Basham. McNulty was added to the bench.


The first chance saw Hanson well off target following a slick move between Basham, Sharp and Freeman, whilst early link up caused Oxford problems but failed to bring the Blades a goal.


Oxford's first opportunity was a McAleny shot over the crossbar but pace in the home side was lifting the home fans. Wright was the first in the book for handball and from the resulting free-kick Dunkley turned over Johnson's cross.


Nelson had a shot deflected wide by Basham but Oxford's pressure told on 22 minutes - with the aid of a man advantage. Wright was forced to leave the field with a facial injury and from the resulting Maguire corner DUNKLEY's flicked header flew in at the back post.
It became apparent that Wright was going to be unable to continue and he was replaced by Carruthers with Basham moving back into defence.


The early substitute soon had a chance, his effort was deflected wide after Basham and Freeman combined on the right, whilst the latter had a penalty appeal turned down on the half hour after he was sandwiched between Johnson and Lundstram.


Unusually stray passes were hampering the Blades going forward, whilst Oxford's high-energy display was causing problems. On 41 minutes a poor Basham clearance put the visitors under pressure but he was back to clear Hall's header off the line, although the referee had spotted a foul on Moore by Hemmings.


The early second period pressure came from the Blades but Sharp's shot was blocked and Freeman almost attached himself to Maguire's short back header.


Lavery was introduced for Hanson and the substitute was involved in winning the corner from which the Blades levelled on 55 minutes. From Fleck's delivery, SHARP was ideally positioned to beat Eastwood, possibly with the aid of a deflection.


Oxford had a great chance to restore the lead just after the hour when a free-kick landed at the feet of Hemmings in the six-yard box but a combination of Freeman and Moore smothered the ball.


The Blades, however, were moving the ball around well in the second half and a great tackle from Nelson prevented Lavery from giving the away side the lead. It was a matter of moments away, though.


On 72 minutes, United moved the ball from left to right and Sharp laid off to FREEMAN, who nonchalantly placed into the bottom corner. Was it a pass? A cross? A shot? Who cares, it was United's second goal.


It was quickly followed by a third five minutes later and Freeman and Sharp were again involved. Freeman cut out Nelson's clearance and the Oxford defender then hooked the heels of the Blades wing-back. Skipper SHARP took responsibility for the penalty and hammered home.


With the 1,667 Blades fans in full voice, the final ten minutes were professional on the pitch. Ebanks-Landell and Fleck made blocks and a combination of Moore and Basham prevented Dunkley from adding a second.


Four minutes of added times saw Oxford pull a goal back when MARTINEZ fired under Moore following a Rothwell pass but the lead was not threatened and Sharp had a chance to score again but Eastwood pushed over the crossbar.


Oxford: Eastwood, Lundstram, Nelson, Maguire, McAleny, Hemmings (Martinez 80), Edwards, Hall (Sercombe 80), Ledson (Rothwell 64), Johnson, Dunkley.
Unused: Skarz, Ruffels, Raglan, Stevens.


Blades: Moore, Fleck, O'Connell, Basham, Sharp, Wright (Carruthers 25), Coutts, Hanson (Lavery 53), Freeman, Ebanks-Landell, Lafferty.
Unused: Long, McNulty, Done, Wilson, O'Shea.


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