United's U23s slipped to defeat against Bolton Wanderers in the Professional Development League on Monday evening.
On a bitterly cold night in S2, goals from Alex Honeyball and Max Clayton saw the visitors run out victors, despite Stephen Mallon getting on the scoresheet for a second game running. A major positive from the fixture though was the return to action of Middlesbrough loanee Harry Chapman, who completed 69 minutes.
After a quiet opening 10 minutes, it was Bolton who had the first real chance. Brockbank's ball over the top saw hesitation between Kelly and Eastwood, but the Blades goalkeeper managed to get back to save in the nick of time from Clayton's lob.
And in the 15th minute it was the visitors who went in front following more indecision in the United defence. A quickly taken free-kick saw Wabara get past Reed to the byline and although Trotter's initial effort was blocked, HONEYBALL reacted quickest to force home from close-range. In response, Reed free Wright who tested Howard at his near post.
In the 22nd minute though United restored parity with a following a well worked set-piece. A short corner ended with Chapman firing the ball low across goal where MALLON diverted home past Howard with his left-foot.
Five minutes later, United should have been in front, but within 60 seconds they fell behind. Following some good feet by Chapman, Reed got the better of Brockbank in the penalty area only for Howard to from point blank range.
Bolton then broke down the left and from Matthews cross across the face of goal CLAYTON got in front of Bainbridge to tap home.
United's response was almost instant, but Howard just about managed to deny Brooks following a one-two with Chapman.
As half-time approached, it was the home side pushing forward and Reed hit a long-range effort narrowly over from distance. And moments later, from a free-kick, Chapman came even close, curling a free-kick into the side netting with Howard scrambling across his line.
In the final minute of the half, Bolton hit the woodwork through Clayton, before Perry fired the rebound from a promising position over the bar.
As the hour approached, Perry became the first booking of the game for a cynical trip on the advancing Chapman. And from the resulting free-kick, a well worked free-kick involving Reed, Chapman and Brooks saw the latter sting the palms of Howard, who saved at the concession of a corner.
With 23 minutes remaining, Bolton should have made it three, a poor pass from Bainbridge was intercepted by Clayton, who played through Soloman-Otabor, but under heavy pressure from Kelly the winger fired wide of the post. On his return to action for the Blades, Chapman received a warm hand as he was replaced by T. Smith in the 69th minute.
Brooks was the next to be replaced, with K. Smith entering the fray. With 15 minutes remaining, Howard produced the save of the night to deny T. Smith, after Wright and Mallon had combined to create the opportunity. United's final change saw Charlesworth replace Mallon.
The clock was ticking against the Blades and try as they might, they just couldn't breach the visitors backline despite having much of the second-half.
Blades: Eastwood, Bennett, Kelly, Reed, Graham, Bainbridge, Chapman (T. Smith 69), Slater, Wright, Brooks (K. Smith 74), Mallon (Charlesworth 83)
Unused: Warhurst, Doherty.