Happy to turn to academy
NIGEL Adkins hailed a classy all-round display from a side containing home-grown promise, as the Blades cast aside Oldham to revive their play-off hopes.
First-half goals from John Brayford and Ryan Flynn were added to late on by Billy Sharp, allowing manager Adkins breathing room to savour only a second home league victory since the run of the year.
On his full debut, academy starlet Ben Whiteman had a hand in the first two goals and fellow graduate, goalkeeper George Long, pulled off a vital save to deny Oldham Curtis Main after the interval.
“We needed to go and win the game and we have won well,” said Adkins, who also fielded academy graduates Louis Reed and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
“It was a good team performance and we were resolute at the back.
“We lost Chris Basham who failed a fitness test after rocking an ankle in training.
“But the three lads at the back did well and George made a super save in goal at an important time in the game too.
“The lads are working hard and we have got a good victory.We could have had this in the previous games, but the fact of the matter is we put the ball in the back of the net early on.”
Defensive jitters assisted in the 11th-minute opener. Oldham failed to clear their lines and Whiteman cushioned the ball into the path of Brayford, who finished neatly with a drive across Joel Coleman in the visitors’ goal.
And Whiteman also had a hand in the second when his hopeful ball was collected by Flynn, who drove at a hole in the Oldham defence to round Coleman and fire home.
Oldham improved in the second half and Main forced an excellent stop from Long before hammering against the underside of the crossbar from 30 yards out.
Sharp rounded things off, though, with a composed near-post finish after being played in by Brayford.
“We didn’t start the game well at all and looked really flat,” said Oldham boss John Sheridan, who saw a sevenmatch unbeaten run come to an end.
“I thought we would deal with them.We were on a good run of form but for some reason, they had one or two spare players on the pitch. That should never happen.
“Every goal is a bad goal but all of them could have been prevented.
“For the first goal two of our players mis-kicked it and for the third, two of our players mis-kicked it.
“The second was from our throw-in halfway inside their half where we gave it away cheaply and they countered us.
“We just didn’t get going.”
STAR MAN YANIC WILDS
CHUT Wigan POINT GAINED: Will Grigg celebrates securing Wigan a late point Inset: Elliott Lee drives in to bring Colchester level at 2-2
STAR MAN JOHN BRAYFO