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Kick off 19:45 (UK)

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03 October 2018 Venue Ewood Park Attendance

Kick off 19:45 (UK)

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Report: Rovers 0 Sheffield United 2

Billy Sharp's brace brings Rovers' 26-game unbeaten home league run to an end under the lights

3 October 2018

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A Billy Sharp brace ended Rovers’ 26-game unbeaten home run in the league as two second half finishes did the damage at Ewood Park.

Both of Sharp’s finishes came in the second half and probably totalled all of about four yards, but the experienced frontman was in the right place at the right time to poach his double.

The first came in fortunate circumstances as he finished at the second time of asking after Derrick Williams blocked his initial attempt.

But his and United’s second came after a fine flowing move saw the visiting captain nod home from a couple of yards out to inflict a first home defeat on Tony Mowbray’s side.

Mowbray made two changes for the clash against the Yorkshire side. Williams returned from suspension, whilst Adam Armstrong got the nod from the start following his goalscoring cameo off the bench at the weekend against Nottingham Forest.

Regular captain Charlie Mulgrew was back having missed the last four games, with the Scotland centre back available off the bench.

An early chance for the visitors fell to the trusted right boot of Sharp, but after a short corner was played into him, the Blades captain could only curl into the grateful gloves of David Raya.

It was Chris Wilder's side who were having the better of the opening exchanges under the lights, and Mark Duffy forced Raya to beat his volley behind for a corner kick after the winger was found in the box by left back Enda Stevens.
At the other end, Harrison Reed almost capitalised on a lack of communication in the United backline but saw his hooked volley blocked by returning ex-Rover Jack O'Connell.

Soon after and a Corry Evans curled effort was guided an inch or two over Dean Henderson's crossbar as Rovers began to make forays forward.

But up the other end, Academy graduate O'Connell forced another Academy graduate in Raya to palm away his header after an Ollie Norwood corner was smashed towards the back post.

The chances continued to come for the Blades and Raya was again tested by a dipping David McGoldrick drive and then a powerful effort from Scottish schemer John Fleck in a matter of minutes just before half time.

Tony Mowbray wouldn’t have been best pleased with what he saw, and changed things up after the break with Mulgrew entering the action in place of Richie Smallwood, which resulted in a change in formation as Rovers moved to three at the back.

The change didn’t have too much of an impact on the play early on, with Fleck again forcing a block from a Rovers man before O’Connell nodded over the upright from the resulting corner.

Before the hour, patient play from Rovers saw Bennett’s driven cross find Amari’i Bell, but the defender could only head over the bar under pressure from Kieron Freeman.

But with 25 minutes to go it was the Yorkshire side who took the lead as a cross from McGoldrick found Sharp, whose initial effort was blocked by Williams but the follow up was tapped home from a couple of yards from the same man.

Rovers produced an immediate response, but after Williams’ near post cross found substitute Ben Brereton, the Nottingham Forest loanee could only head inches past the post when he probably should have tested Henderson.

United’s lead was doubled with 12 minutes remaining and it was Sharp again who was eagerly waiting to head home after an accurate Stevens cross from the left found the visiting skipper.

Substitute Conor Washington almost made an immediate impact after coming off the bench, but after being played inside, the striker saw Raya in his way to deny Chris Wilder’s side a third goal of the night.

And that was to be the last action as Rovers were left disappointed to see their incredible home run come to an end against a well organised United side, who ran out winners.

Rovers: Raya, Bennett (c), Lenihan, Williams, Bell (Rothwell, 68), Evans, Smallwood (Mulgrew, 46), Reed, Dack, Armstrong, Graham (Brereton, 56).

Unused substitutes: Leutwiler, Rodwell, Conway, Palmer.

Booked: Bennett, 90.

Sheffield United: Henderson, Stevens, Fleck, O'Connor, Basham, Sharp (c) (Clarke, 83), Egan, Norwood, McGoldrick (Washington, 87), Freeman, Duffy (Coutts, 73).

Unused substitutes: Moore, Lundstram, Stearman, Johnson.

Goal: Sharp, 66, 78.

Booked: Stevens, 80, O’Connell, 90.

Referee: Robert Jones.

Attendance: 13,293 (2,057 away).

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