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MATCH REPORT: SHEFFIELD UNITED (HOME)

16 July 2019

MARCUS Harness lit up the Pirelli Stadium with a stunning late winner as the Brewers continued their pre-season schedule with a 2-1 victory over Premier League newcomers Sheffield United.

Whilst the visitors showed plenty of pace and movement in attack throughout the game and Albion had to defend manfully for long spells, Chris Wilder's side only had Billy Sharp's 18th minute header to show for it before ex-Blades man John Brayford equalised five minutes before the break following a spell when United keeper Simon Moore had been kept quite busy by Albion's hard working forward line.

The inevitable raft of second half substitutions did not detract from the entertainment and Harness' finish was the icing on the cake as he picked up the ball on the edge of the box and lashed home an unstoppable rocket of a shot that even drew praise from the opposition supporters.

After the opening pre-season game at Matlock on Saturday there was just the one change for the visit of Premier League new boys Sheffield United. Joe Sbarra came in for Ben Fox who had to go off at Matlock with a knee injury.

New keeper Kieran O'Hara showed good hands inside the first 90 seconds as striker David McGoldrick cut inside Richard Nartey on the left and fired in a low shot to the near post, the Manchester United loanee more than equal to it.

And O'Hara was on his toes quickly again as The Blades hit the woodwork twice in the space of a minute. New signing Luke Freeman curled an effort onto the face of the crossbar from a similar position to McGoldrick's effort before John Fleck spotted a gap in the Brewers defence to strike a low angled effort against the outside of the post. There was then a let off when Scott Fraser dwelt on the ball a moment too long allowing McGoldrick to nip in and slide a shot wide of the target.

McGoldrick was certainly proving to be a handful and when O'Hara got a punch onto Fleck's corner on 13 minutes the big striker threw himself into an overhead kick that wasnt that far over the crossbar in the end.

Albion grew into the game and a slick passing move involving Sbarra, Harness and Boyce eventually found Fraser on the left hand side, the Scot cutting inside and firing a shot straight at Simon Moore in the United goal.

The early goal that United had been threatening came on 18 minutes. Enda Stevens provided the width and a pinpoint cross and there was skipper Billy SHARP to plant a firm header inside O'Hara's right hand post.

Harness was looking sharp again, as he did at Matlock and some neat footwork inside the box worked him enough space to test Moore with a firmly struck drive.

Were it not for a superbly timed intervention from Kean Bryan then Albion would have been level just before the half hour mark. Harness and Colin Daniel combined well down the left and the latters low cross was heading for Lucas Akins until the former Manchester City man got his foot in first.

Akins did get a strike in on goal on 34 minutes as a loose ball came to him on the edge of the box but Moore flung himself to his right to push away a stinging shot.

Five minutes before the break and Albion were level. More good work from Daniel down the left earned a corner and BRAYFORD rose highest in the box to meet Harness' corner to head into the top corner as Moore tried in vain to get there.

Half time: Burton Albion 1-1 Sheffield United

The second half started with Sheffield coming out of the blocks sharper and o'Hara was soon having to show good anticipation and handing to clutch a firm header from Bryan five minutes after the restart and the visitors looked certain to retake the lead when Stevens cut inside and shaped to shoot only for Nartey to throw himself in front of the shot to block.

McGoldrick did head home from a neatly worked move moments later but his, and the United fans, joy was short lived as an assistant's flag chalked it off.

Albion were finding themselves having to defend manfully as United upped the ante but a delightful counter led by Fraser got Albion up the pitch just after the hour mark. At the end of it all Sbarra was abruptly brought down and after the free kick had been cleared it was the signal for Chris Wilder to make seven changes. Those changes included a return to the Pirelli Stadium for winder Mark Duffy who was a key part of Albion's promotion winning team in 2016.

The changes seemed to have little effect of United's flow as they poured forward with fresh legs. Albion then made their first change with Reece Hutchinson getting his first pre-season minutes as the second half reached the midway point, Sbarra the man to make way.

When Albion did break out they did so at speed and Harness was at the end of it with a teasing cross that just eluded the head of Boyce who had started the move on the halfway line.

There was also a first run out of the summer for David Templeton and he made an instant impression coming in off the wing and trying to find the far corner, Phil Jagielka having to hack the ball clear at the back post with Moore beaten.

Home fans also got their first sightings of Academy graduate Ethan Vale and recent signing Jevan Anderson as Nigel Clough rang the changes late on.

Sheffield United fans were excited to see recent signing Callum Robinson and he ran purposefully into the box only for Hutchinson to time his tackle to perfection to prevent him from putting the Blades back in front.

With a very youthful Burton side finishing the game United worked another good chance only for Daniel, now playing at centre back to get a crucial touch to prevent Robinson from stealing in around the back to finish.

And it was the most experienced of Albion's 'young' guns who finished things off with a thunderbolt of a shot into the top corner to round off another satisfying evening for the Brewers.


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