Brewers retain Bass Charity VaseBurton Albion fans were given their first glimpse of the new look Brewers for the forthcoming season at the Pirelli Stadium and must have been pleased with what they saw as Albion ran out 4-0 victors over League 1 Sheffield United.
First half goals from Alex MacDonald, Lucas Akins and Dominic Knowles had Albion firmly in control against Nigel Clough's side and although the Blades sent out a stronger second half side in search of a cutting edge triallist Louis Cutajar put the gloss on Albion's performance with a fourth goal late on.
Goalkeeper Joe Anyon was the only triallist in Albion's starting line-up with Phil Edwards, Ian Sharps, George Taft and on loan United man Callum McFadzean comprising the back four. Across the middle Alex MacDonald provided his usual tireless efforts with Robbie Weir and Matty Palmer looking to control the centre of the park with new signing Akins on the right, Stuart Beavon partnering Dominic Knowles in attack. On their first run out of pre-season United fielded new signings Andy Butler and Jamal Campbell-Ryce along with a number of more familiar names to Blades fans.
McFadzean almost allowed his parent club a sniff at goal with a tentative back header to Anyon in the fifth minute with Chris Porter only inches from poaching the opener but Albion quickly burst up the field to grab the lead on five minutes. Akins fed Palmer with a chance inside the box and when his scuffed effort eluded Beavon in the middle it looked like the chance had gone but MacDONALD was alert beyond the far post to smash a rising shot into the roof of the net.
Withe less than a quarter of an hour on the clock Albion were two ahead as new recruits Beavon and AKINS combined to good effect. The Preston North End loanee found space down the left and was able to find enough space to pull back a low cross that Albion's new arrival from Stevenage swept home with his left foot to devastating effect.
Albion continued to look the more lively in attack with Akins and Beavon both impressing and another chance came along on 22 minutes when Mark Howard raced from his goal and was left in no mans land as Beavon got to the ball first before putting it into the path of Knowles, the young striker being denied a clear shot at the empty goal as a defender raced back to clear.
United were struggling to make much of an impression and their first half efforts were probably summed up when Jamie Murphy tried to play Campbell-Ryce into space on the right but woefully overhit his pass with Albion's defence stretched.
Beavon continued to torment the Blades defence and had good shouts for a penalty on 36 minutes as he went to ground under challenge from Butler but Premiership referee Jon Moss was not swayed to award the spot kick.
A solid first half display from the Brewers was rounded off on 43 minutes when KNOWLES thumped home a header from McFadzean's corner.
Half time: Burton Albion 3-0 Sheffield United
Nigel Clough sent out a completely changed eleven for the second half and the Brewers made seven changes with fitness very much the key for both manager's in the game. Dean Lyness replaced the underworked Anyon in goal, triallist Christian Ribeiro, a promotion winner with Scunthorpe United last season, replaced Phil Edwards and Shane Cansdell-Sherriff replaced McFadzean, giving Gary Rowett the chance to look at George Taft at left back.
Academy graduate Marcus Harness replaced Akins, former Wolves youngster Jordan Cranston came on for MacDonald and a double change in attack saw Dutch triallist Thomas Verheydt and Adam McGurk replace Knowles and Beavon.
Ribeiro immediately impressed with a superbly timed last ditch challenge to deny substitue Diego Di Girolamo and the Blades man was quick to find another chance to impress with a curling effort that had Lyness scrambling across to see the ball go wide of the goal.
Although seeing less of the ball in the second half, Albion probably crafted the best chance with McGurk robbing a hesitant looking Harry Maguire to send over a teasing cross that Verheydt stretched for and helped into the path of Harness, the winger cutting the ball inside for Weir to balloon a shot over the bar.
Ian Sharps took his leave just after the hour allowing Liam Slade a chance to stake his claim and with Albion having more defensive work to do Lyness had to come smartly from his line to claim a low cross from Craig Allcock before anyone in red and white could pounce.
More changes for Albion with twenty minutes to go saw young prospect Mark Shelton given the opportunity to replace Robbie Weir in the centre and Louis Cutajar, given another chance after his appearance at Ilkeston, sent on to replace Taft at left back.
United continued to look more threatening and Lyness was again alert and sharply off his line when Bob Harris raced into the area, Albion's stopper making sure his clean sheet stayed in tact. The Blades were getting closer and when Maguire headed Allcock's cross back towards the far post it looked like the popular centre back had got one back but Cansdell-Sherriff somehow got something on the ball to divert it wide of the post.
Albion rounded off their afternoon with a fourth goal that lit up the second half. Harness went on a mazy and mesmerising run down the right, crossing into the centre where Verheydt was unable to make contact with CUTAJAR on hand to control and fire home from eight yards.
That was most certainly game over the United with Di Girolamo firing a long range effort wide of goal in the closing minutes but Albion had more than done enough to retain the Bass Charity Vase and send their fans home happy at the start of pre-season.
BURTON ALBION: Anyon (Lyness, 46); Edwards (Ribeiro, 46), Sharps (Slade, 60), Taft (Cutajar, 70), McFadzean (Cansdell-Sherriff, 46); Akins (Harness, 46), Weir (Shelton, 70), Palmer, MacDonald (Cranston, 46); Beavon (McGurk, 46), Knowles (Verheydt, 46)
SHEFF UTD 1st HALF: Howard, Butler, Dimaio, Doyle, Murphy, Collins, Davies, Porter, Campbell-Ryce, Pailling, Reed.
SHEFF UTD 2ns HALF: Long, Harris, Maguire, Baxter, McGinn, Scougall, De Girolamo, Basham, Allcock, Crawford, McGahey.
Referee: Mr. Jonathan Moss (Yorkshire)