Sheffield United recorded their second defeat in as many games into the new season as a less than convincing performance earned them a 3-0 hammering at Middlesbrough last night.
Chris Wilder’s Blades lost 2-1 at home to newcomers Swansea City on Saturday in front of the Sky cameras before last night’s horror show which saw them three goals behind inside 25 minutes. They travel to QPR at the weekend after the transfer deadline closes. If United are to embark on a serious promotion challenge and better last season’s tenth placed finish then they must first strengthen and start with getting points on the board.
United opted to start with the same XI, which had lost to Swansea, whilst Boro saw Adama Traore absent from the squad with an expected move to Wolves imminent.
Middlesbrough have an amazing record at the Riverside. Since March 2014, on the occasions where the Reds have taken the lead, the home side haven’t lost a match. Including yesterday’s victory amounts to 55 matches and during which have won 49 of them.
Boro naturally got off to the better start in the earlier exchanges with local talent Lewis Wing providing two assists for Martin Braithwaite and Aden Flint before Stewart Downing added a third before 30 minutes had been played.
The hosts would have been ahead inside the first minute had Dean Henderson not keep out Jonny Howson’s shot after Britt Assombalonga skilfully dummied Ryan Shotton’s low cross into the box. On 7 minutes another Boro attack saw Downing win a corner and the resulting set-piece saw Wing’s delivery skim off Shotton’s head and into the path of BRAITHWAITE to fire home.
There lead was doubled ten minutes later as another corner was turned home by defender FLINT who headed home at the far post.
United were out of sorts and on 25 minutes the hosts were 3-0 up and cruising. Shotton whipped the ball in from the right and DOWNING bounced the ball over Henderson. The game looked like going out of control from United’s perspective but a tactical change avoid any further embarrassment before the referee blew for the break.
Half-Time: Middlesbrough 3-0 Sheffield United
The second half told a different story and had the second period started goalless then the final result may have told a different tale. For United came out stronger and better finishing in front of goal may have seen the Blades return to South Yorkshire with a point.
Though Chris Basham was fortunate to avoid a red card following his heavy challenge on Braithwaite. As the chances flooded a short corner played out to substitute Ben Woodburn saw his dinked cross headed wide at the far post by Leon Clarke.
Steven’s neat cross from the left saw Evans steam into the box but his half-volley sliced over the bar. Clarke’s poor night continued when high pressure saw Duffy intercept the ball deep into the Boro’s half and after setting up Clarke with only the keeper to beat side-footed his effort straight at Randolph and the ball was booted to safety.
With moments remaining Duffy’s ball from the left to Evans saw the midfielder test Randolph from distance but he easily pushed the ball away from any danger.
Middlesbrough: Randolph, Friend, Shotton, Clayton, Assombalonga (Fletcher 78), Braithwaite, Howson (McNair 71), Downing, Fry, Flint, Wing (Leadbitter 82). Unused: Dimi, Johnson, Chapman, Tavernier.
Sheffield United: Henderson, Baldock, Stevens, Fleck, O’Connell, Basham, Lundstram (Woodburn 45), Evans (Leonard 82), Clarke, Egan, McGoldrick (Duffy 69). Unused: Moore, Sharp, Steraman, Bryan.