Goals either side of half-time from Stefan Scougall, Joel Coustrain and Ben Davies ensured Sheffield United’s Under-21s claimed a comprhensive 3-0 victory over their arch rivals Sheffield Wednesday.
The Blades, who fielded a strong-looking side, featuring several first-team players, deservedly triumphed in the Steel City derby and would have won by more had it not been for Owls goalkeeper Cameron Dawson.
Wednesday coach Lee Bullen gave run-outs to Jacques Maghoma and Stevie May and the duo completed the 90 minutes.
The Owls started on the front foot, with Ryan Meadows denied from close range by George Willis after a lovely cross by May.
From the resulting corner, William De Havilland’s header struck the crossbar before United cleared away the loose ball.
Meadows released May down the right flank in the sixth minute and the Scotland international burst infield before seeing his low drive parried by Willis, who then produced a fine stop to keep out Jacques Maghoma’s follow up.
It took a great last ditch challenge by Ed Sanders to prevent Michael Higdon from testing the reflexes of Cameron Dawson as the the visitors grew in confidence and stature.
Dawson had to be alert to tip over Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s lob following a lovely through ball by highly-rated Blades youngster Louis Reed.
It turned out to be a brief repreive as United went ahead mid-way through the half when Stefan Scougall calmly slotted a volley out of Dawson’s reach following a gem of a cross by Joel Coustrain.
Wednesday lost their way after Scougall’s strike and Dawson produced a stunning save to stop Calvert-Lewin doubling United’s advantage, with Rafa Floro hacking the ball away from near the goal-line.
Calvert-Lewin was a thorn in the Owls’ side throughout the opening 45 minutes and he was left frustrated again when Dawson turned away his shot at the near post.
Reed was lucky to escape a yellow card following a clumsy, late challenge on Maghoma. Indeed, Maghoma was expertly denied by Willis after a clever turn and effort on the turn just outside the penalty area.
Watched on by United boss Nigel Clough, United doubled their advantage just before the hour mark when Coustrain latched on to Calvert-Lewin’s clever pass before drilling a shot past Dawson.
Dawson continued to shine in between the sticks, pulling off brilliant stop to foil Connor Dimaio after the talented midfielder exchanged passes with Higdon.
Calvert-Lewin fired straight at Dawson after another promising United counter attack.
Wednesday threw on George Hirst, the son of Owls legend David, for his first outing at Under-21 level and they came close to reducing the deficit in the 74th minute when De Havilland flashed a header from a McCabe corner over the top.
Maghoma tried his luck after a good run but his tame drive was comfortably saved by Willis before Davies blasted in a free-kick in added on time after the referee penalised Sanders for a back pass.
Owls: Dawson; Floro, Sanders, De Havilland, Pickerill (Hirst 73); Croasdale, Stobbs, McCabe, May, Meadows, Maghoma. Substitutes: McDonagh, Beatson, Penney, Clarke.
United: Willis; Davies, Whiteman, McGahey, McFadzean; Reed (Evans HT), Dimaio, Scougall (Cockerline 74), Coustrain; Higdon (Wright 73), Calvert-Lewin. Substitutes: Eastwood, Paling.