Sheffield United reached the third round of the FA Youth Cup after beating FC Halifax Town 5-1 last night.
Keegan Burton, Callum Semple and Tyler Smith were among those on target as Derek Geary’s side, who will face Preston North End in the next phase of the competition, produced a commanding performance at The Shay.
Although Kelan Swales handed United’s non-league opponents a lifeline midway through the second-half, Sam Graham ensured it was quickly snatched away. Substitute David Parkhouse added a fifth deep into stoppage time.
“I always thought this could be a banana skin,” Geary said. “No disrespect to Halifax, because they gave it a real good go, but because we had the better players it was always going to be about attitude and application.
“We drilled it into the lads that, if we matched their work ethic and didn’t give them a sniff, we should come through okay. So it was pleasing to see them take that on board and produce some good stuff too.”
Chris Wilder has pledged to take a keen interest in United’s academy as he attempts to rebuild the club from the bottom up. True to his word, the first team manager, his assistant Alan Knill and goalkeeping coach Darren Ward watched from the stands as Geary’s team dominated proceedings from start to finish.
Less than 30 seconds had passed when Jordan Hallam, who made his senior debut against Grimsby Town seven days ago, went close to breaking the deadlock. Marko Basic wasted a chance for the hosts soon after but, barring the odd scare in front of Josh Perryman, it was one way traffic from that moment on.
Burton saw an angled drive flash just wide of the far post before converting Smith’s 23rd minute centre following Regan Slater’s burst forward.
Hallam curled a free-kick just over the crossbar as United continued to push Halifax back. The pressure finally told early in the second-half when two strikes in quick succession saw the visitors seize complete control.
First, Semple prodded home from close range following a 49th minute skirmish. Then, two minutes later, the dangerous Smith slid the ball home beyond Kyle Trenerry after being released by Stephen Mallon’s glorious pass.
Swales reacted first when an speculative attempt rebounded off the woodwork just past the hour. But Graham ensured the final scoreline reflected the flow of the game by heading home Hallam’s 72nd minute corner. Parkhouse twisted the knife seconds before the end.
Geary, whose team set-up their meeting with Halifax by overcoming Crewe Alexandra, said: “This was a different test, where we were the favourites, and although we weren’t perfect, we handled that situation and coped with it well.”
n Sheffield United: Perryman, Charlesworth, Cantrill, Gimour (Ford 73), Graham, Semple, Smith, Slater, Burton (Parkhouse 79), Hallam, Mallon (Greaves 68). Not used: Cummings, Warhurst, Ford, Parkhouse.
Referee: Elliott Heward.