Sheffield United showed that there is life beyond Kyle Naughton and Kyle Walker with a comprehensive friendly victory against local rivals Chesterfield last night.
On possibly their last visit to Chesterfield’s Saltergate home, goals from Leigh Bromby and ex-Spirite Jamie Ward sealed United’s third win from three warm-up outings ahead of the season’s curtain-raiser at Middlesbrough next month.
Understandably, however, manager Kevin Blackwell’s preperations for his squad’s latest outing were complicated by the sale of Naughton and Walker, two of his best young assets, to Tottenham Hotspur in a rumoured £10m double transfer.
Naughton made an instant impact, setting up a goal as his new side went down 3-1 in a friendly last night, but Walker is expected to return to Bramall Lane on a season-long loan deal ahead of August 7th’s trip to the Riverside Stadium.
“Everyone knows I will always remain a Blade at heart,” Naughton said after securing a dream move to the capital.
“I can’t thank United fans enough for what they have done for me, and nothing would please me more than to see United reach the Premiership sooner rather than later.”
United’s preperations to achieve that goal continued in earnest at a warm Saltergate last night, in front of just under 4,000 supporters. Blackwell’s latest signing, former Tranmere left back Andy Taylor, featured at left back and Glen Little and Julian Gray, two wingers on trial at Bramall Lane, were again handed an opportunity to impress.
Former Reading and Portsmouth winger Little did exactly that, setting up Leigh Bromby’s 21st minute strike with a corner, but on the opposite flank of Saltergate’s pitch Gray struggled to make an impact on the game.
Brian Howard and Darren Currie exchanged good opportunities either side of the half time break, both saved excellently by respective goalkeepers Tommy Lee and Ian Bennett, and it was Jamie Ward who returned to Saltergate and punished his former team.
Introduced as a substitute at the expense of Billy Sharp, Ward received a generous reception from the home fans and duly had the first attempt on goal of the half, comfortably saved by Lee. It wasn’t long before Ward was causing problems for his former team mates again.
The diminutive striker chased down a long kick by Bennett, and was hauled down by home defender Danny Hall. Ward picked himself up and proceeded to tuck the 66th-minute penalty past Lee to double the visitor’s advantage.
Hall then failed to make up for his error, failing to connect cleanly with a good chance at the far post, and Ward narrowly failed to add his second goal of the game after a bright, mazy run by another new signing, Kyel Reid.
“It was a good test for us,” Blackwell told The Sheffield Star.
“Exactly what we expected and what we wanted too.
“We’re working on a couple of things and I’m pleased with how the players’ fitness is coming on.
“There were some good individual performances out there and it was a very worthwhile exercise.”
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