at Langwith Road, Shirebrook
Worksop Town U19 (0) 0
Sheffield United U19 (0) 2
Keegan Burton 47 (pen), Jack Sharvin 87
Admission £2. Programme 20p
It is a age old mantra that development team football is not about results... and though it is actually true because these sort of games are ultimately about educating young players in the ways of the world, it must still be a real sickener, to lose by virtue of an unavoidably conceded penalty and a late goal when your team have worked as hard as Worksop did tonight.
Sheffield United certainly had more of the ball going forward than their hosts, but what the young Tigers did have was a whole load of togetherness and a determination not to be overrun by the Blades, they gave it a real go tonight... it as certainly the best I've seen them play this season.
Danny Ramsey and Keegan Burton both tried to beat Brandon Pritchard in the Tigers goal with long range efforts that were off target and Regan Slater rolled the ball wide of the post when he looked odds on to put the visitors in front, but Worksop had their chances too, forcing Sam Gibson into a last ditch clearance as Nathan Clarke and Declan Stevens attacked the Blades goal straight from the kick off, Clarke floated a neat pass over the back four to Ryan Hurcombe who was only denied by Manny Adebowale's outstretched leg and Stevens fired into the side netting after Scott Wesley had motored forward from the middle of the park before knocking a defence splitting pass into the striker's path.
United stepped up a gear towards half time but Worksop weren't giving them the room or space they needed for a clear sight of goal, apart from when Jake Ford swung a free kick into the area that Adebowale met with a thumping downwards header that Pritchard did well to save.
Two minutes into the second half the Blades had the opportunity to take the lead when Regan Jay broke free into the right hand side of the Tigers penalty area, Aaron Pickersgill raced back in an attempt to cut out the pacey frontman's run and as Jay unleashed a crashing shot towards the goal it hit the Worksop defender's arm.
It was unintentional and there was no way that Pickersgill could have got out of the way, but though it was a definite 'ball to hand', rather than a deliberate transgression, it had prevented a clear goal scoring opportunity, so by applying the letter of the law, the referee John Stevens had no option but to award a penalty.
Keegan Burton stepped forward and planted the spot kick past Pritchard to break the deadlock.
Worksop had good reason to feel that luck was against them, but Jay's initial shot was on target and possibly heading for the top corner anyway.
The Tigers were visibly knocked out of their stride for a spell after the goal and Jerome Slew and Tyler Smith both hit the woodwork as the Blades pushed on in an attempt to kill the game off.
Slew again, looking lively since he came on as a sub for the visitors, cut inside his marker and shot narrowly wide of the left hand upright.
Pritchard was called into action as he raced from his line to intercept an under hit backpass as Harvey Gilmour homed in on him.
Moments later Gilmour was back but the Worksop keeper got the better of him again, when he dropped to his left to block a 20 yard shot.
Josh Hobson was fouled just outside the Blades area and after receiving treatment he opted to take the free kick himself, but skewed the ball over the bar.
Burton chipped a long shot from out on the right wing just wide of Pritchard's goal and in the next goalmouth incident Burton came close again after Slew had cued a great chance up for him from ten yards out, but Pritchard pulled off a sublime save to turn the ball over the bar.
Worksop were almost on level terms inside the last five minutes, when Tom Wickstone couldn't hold onto Hobson's free kick from out on the right flank, but the ball fell awkwardly for Mason Gee and he couldn't keep his shot down.
The home side had worked hard to repel their second placed visitors and didn't deserve to be on the end of a thrashing tonight, but they succumbed to another late goal when Jack Sharvin nodded a corner beyond the reach of Pritchard inside the final three minutes.
FT: Worksop Town U19 0 v Sheffield United U19 2
|HKL NMU19L table after tonight's game|
United had more possession going forward than Worksop tonight, but the Tigers applied themselves well all over the pitch and stood up to be counted against the inevitable attacking threat that one of the better teams at this level were bound to pose.
If Worksop had been just a touch more clinical in front of goal tonight, when they had created a few half decent opportunities to get on the score sheet, it could have been a different story.
But it's all part of a learning curve... and sometimes it is a fairly steep one.